Health Officials Announce Fifth Human Case of EEE this Season

PLYMOUTH – A fifth human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus infection in the state has been confirmed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

The woman in her 60s was exposed to EEE in Plymouth County.

EEE is a rare but potentially fatal disease that can affect people of all ages.

Four municipalities are at critical risk, ten are at high risk, and 17 are at moderate risk for EEE in the state of Massachusetts.

Gabbrielle Sakolsky, Superintendent and Entomologist with the Cape Cod Mosquito Control Project, said that a dry summer has helped keep mosquito populations down this year.

“It’s given my crews a chance to get around to all those places you might see those mosquitoes developing and take care of mosquitoes at the source, so we haven’t had high mosquito population,” said Sakolsky.  

The DPH said that 95 percent of the EEE cases that have occurred in Massachusetts since 2000 have been exposed to the virus before mid-September.

Although the fall season is approaching, the risk of EEE cases will continue until the first hard frost of the season, according to the state DPH.

“This time a year, people tend to let down their guard. There aren’t that many mosquitoes out there, the evenings are cooler, there might just be those couple mosquitoes. Those couple mosquitoes are older mosquitoes and have more of a chance of transmitting the disease,” said Sakolsky.

Residents are reminded by the DPH to use mosquito repellent any time they are outside and consider wearing long sleeve shirts and pants.

Those in high and critical risk communities are advised to avoid being outside at dawn and dusk to reduce exposure to mosquitoes.

Sakolsky also said that residents should check their properties for any containers of standing water and empty them out to avoid creating breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Last year, there were 12 human cases of EEE in the Commonwealth with six deaths.

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native currently living in Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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