September 26, 2019
State Public Health Officials Announce 12th Human Case of EEE and
3rd Death in Massachusetts
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced that laboratory testing has confirmed the 12th human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus infection. As a result, the communities of Auburn, Charlton, Dudley, Leicester, Southbridge and Spencer have been elevated to high risk. Canton has not had any additional mosquitoes found infected with EEE and is therefore still considered at a moderate risk.
“Although mosquito populations are declining at this time of year, risk from EEE will continue until the first hard frost,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown. ``We continue to emphasize the need for people to protect themselves from mosquito bites.”
In addition to the 12 human cases of EEE this season in Massachusetts, there have also been 8 confirmed cases of EEE this year in animals - 7 horses and a goat. DPH also has been recently notified by a hospital of a death from EEE of an Essex County resident. It marks the 3rd EEE death this year in Massachusetts.
State officials continue to remind residents to take personal precautions to prevent mosquito bites. Residents can learn more about EEE and ways to protect themselves on DPH’s website at https://www.mass.gov/guides/eee-in-massachusetts.
EEE is a rare but serious and potentially fatal disease that can affect people of all ages. EEE virus has been found in 422 mosquito samples this year, many of them from species of mosquitoes capable of spreading the virus to people. The mosquitoes in Canton, however, are considered “Bird Biters” and bite primarily only birds.
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) has now completed aerial spraying for mosquitoes for the season. Aerial spraying helps reduce risk of EEE transmission but some risk will continue to exist until there is a hard frost. The Norfolk County Mosquito Control Project (NCMCP) which conducts ground spraying in Canton has also ceased doing so for the season.
People have an important role to play in protecting themselves and their loved ones from illnesses caused by mosquitoes:
Avoid Mosquito Bites
Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors. Use a repellent with an EPA-registered ingredient (i.e. DEET), or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to the instructions on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.
Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours: The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning in areas of high risk.
Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites: Wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from skin.
Mosquito-Proof Your Home: Drain Standing Water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by draining. Install or Repair Screens.
John L. Ciccotelli, R.S., C.H.O.
Director of Public Health
Canton Board of Health