State Lays Out EEE Preparation Plans

PLYMOUTH – Massachusetts officials are preparing for Eastern Equine Encephalitis cases across the state this year.

This comes after officials from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported the first positive mosquito sample of EEE of the season within Franklin County last week.

In 2019, 12 human EEE cases were confirmed within the Commonwealth, along with six deaths.

“It’s important to keep in mind that EEE outbreaks typically last two or three years,” Governor Charlie Baker explained at a recent conference.

“That means that we can expect the 2020 season to feature a high number of cases again.”

EEE is rare, but can seriously impact those who contract it. Generally, EEE is contracted by humans through mosquito bites. No human EEE cases have been reported so far this year.

In response to the first primary sample being found, Baker and other state officials announced how action will be taken.

Baker said the state is working to ensure all communities have EEE’s impact controlled.

Not all cities and towns are a part of mosquito control districts, and outbreaks have occurred in recent years within communities that had historically less cases of EEE than others, due primarily to migration patterns of birds that infect mosquitoes.

With that, Baker believes a statewide method is required during a EEE outbreak.

“Mosquitoes and viruses obviously don’t pay much attention to city or town lines,” he continued.

Legislation was filed in April calling for the DPH and State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board to develop a plan to protect residents when there is an elevated risk of EEE.

Baker hopes to see it passed through the House and Senate soon.

Surveillance testing will continue across Massachusetts, while other mitigation efforts such as spraying and horse vaccinations will be carried out. A public awareness campaign has also been launched, including a newly published website from the DPH providing protection information for residents. That website can be found by clicking here.

General safety tips to prevent EEE include draining standing water in and around homes, repairing window and door screens, using mosquito repellent with ingredients approved by the EPA, and wearing clothes that limit exposed skin.

About Brendan Fitzpatrick

Brendan, a recent graduate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is one of the newest members of the NewsCenter team. When not on the beat, you'll probably find him watching Boston sports.
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