MASSACHUSETTS – The first two Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) positive mosquitoes have been detected in Massachusetts since routing mosquito testing resumed on June 15. No West Nile Virus positive mosquitos have been detected to-date.
The first EEE positive mosquito sample was detected in Orange on July 2, followed by an additional EEE mosquito finding in Wendell on July 6. Both towns are in Franklin County. Risk levels have increased in this region to moderate.
Residents and visitors to this area should take personal protection preventative actions like using mosquito repellant and avoiding peak mosquito activity.
Routine mosquito testing will continue through October.
On July 7, Governor Charlie Baker held a press conference on EEE and mosquito control. He said there is the potential that 2020 will be an active year in Mass.
The Department of Public Health in partnership with Local Mosquito Control Projects will conduct comprehensive surveillance activities state-wide to assess the risk of WNV and EEE in 2020. Risk maps and EEE and WNV detections, along with information about ticks will be routinely updated on a new state website at www.mass.gov/mosquitoesandticks.
Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) is a rare but serious disease caused by a virus. The virus that causes EEE is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. In Massachusetts, the virus is most often identified in mosquitoes found in and around freshwater, hardwood swamps.
EEE virus particularly infects birds, often with no evidence of illness in the bird. Mosquitoes become infected when they bite infected birds. Although humans and several other types of mammals, particularly horses and llamas, can become infected, they do not spread disease.
EEE is a very rare disease. Since the virus was first identified in Massachusetts in 1938, just over 110 cases have occurred. The majority of cases typically have been from Bristol, Plymouth, and Norfolk counties. However, in an active year human cases can occur throughout the state.
Outbreaks of EEE usually occur in Massachusetts every 10-20 years. These outbreaks will typically last two to three years. The most recent outbreak of EEE in Massachusetts began in 2019 and included twelve cases with six fatalities.
Currently, the risk level in Westfield is considered low.
Since the virus that causes EEE is spread by mosquitoes, there are some things you can do to reduce your chances of being bitten:
–Schedule outdoor events to avoid the hours between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active;
–When outdoors, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and socks. This may be difficult to do when the weather is hot, but it will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin;
–Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin(KBR 3023), IR3535 (3-[N-butyl-N-acetyl]-aminopropionic acid) or oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-Menthane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] according to the instructions given 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. Permethrin products are intended for use on items such as clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear and should not be applied to skin;
–Keep mosquitoes out of your house by repairing any holes in your screens and making sure they are tightly attached to all your doors and windows;
–Remove areas of standing water around your home and turn them over, regularly empty them, or dispose of them. Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are left outdoors so that water can drain out;
–Clean clogged roof gutters; remove leaves and debris that may prevent drainage of rainwater;
–Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use;
–Change the water in birdbaths every few days; aerate ornamental ponds or stock them with fish;
–Keep swimming pools clean and properly chlorinated; remove standing water from pool covers;
–And, use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property.
Mosquitoes can begin to multiply in any puddle or standing water that lasts for more than four days!. Mosquito breeding sites can be anywhere. Take action to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and neighborhood. Organize a neighborhood clean up day to pick up containers from vacant lots and parks and to encourage people to keep their yards free of standing water. Mosquitoes don’t care about fences, so it’s important to remove areas of standing water throughout the neighborhood. – Material from mass.gov was used in this article