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By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Health officials in Massachusetts have reported the third laboratory confirmed human Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus case this month.

Massachusetts/National Atlas

Officials say the latest case is  a male over the age of 60 who was exposed to the virus in northern Franklin County.

The risk level in two communities in Franklin County has been raised to critical as a result. In addition, one horse from Mendon and one horse from Uxbridge have also tested positive for the EEE virus, raising the risk level to critical in two additional communities in Worcester County.

The four communities now at critical risk are Heath and Colrain in Franklin County, and Mendon and Uxbridge in Worcester County.

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The Department of Agricultural Resources announced aerial spraying in specific areas of Worcester and Middlesex Counties scheduled to begin today, weather permitting, continuing for several evenings. As a result of the elevated risk in several communities, the spray zone is being expanded. The additional communities either partially or fully in the spray zone are Blackstone, Douglas, Dudley, Holliston, Hopedale, Mendon, Millville, Oxford, Uxbridge, and Webster.

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Additionally, MDAR is currently conducting a second round of aerial spraying in areas of Southeastern Massachusetts which began on Wednesday, August 21 and is expected to continue through the weekend.

“We are seeing the most intense level of EEE activity that we have in several years. The largest area is in Bristol and Plymouth Counties with a second focus of activity in parts of Worcester and Middlesex Counties,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “We are urging people across the state to remember that the peak time for transmission of mosquito-borne illness extends through September here in Massachusetts.”

In total across Massachusetts, there are 23 communities now at critical risk, 22 at high risk, and 52 at moderate risk for the EEE virus.

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