By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

For the first time in six years, Massachusetts state health officials report a confirmed Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus infection in a human. The patient is a male over 60 from southern Plymouth County.

Massachusetts/National Atlas

The risk level in nine communities has been raised to critical as a result–Carver, Lakeville, Marion, Middleborough, Rochester, and Wareham in Plymouth County and Acushnet, Freetown, and New Bedford in Bristol County.

“Today’s news is evidence of the significant risk from EEE and we are asking residents to take this risk very seriously,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “We will continue to monitor this situation and the impacted communities.”

Aerial spraying began August 8 in specific areas of Bristol and Plymouth counties to reduce the mosquito population and public health risk and is expected to continue throughout the weekend during evening and overnight hours.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is spread to horses and humans by infected mosquitoes, including several Culex species and Culiseta melanura.

Symptoms of EEE disease often appear 4 to 10 days after someone is bitten by an infected mosquito.

EEE is a more serious disease than West Nile Virus (WNV) and carries a high mortality rate for those who contract the serious encephalitis form of the illness. Symptoms may include high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, and sore throat. There is no specific treatment for the disease, which can lead to seizures and coma.

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