A rare, sometimes fatal Viral infections that spread mosquitoes are back in Massachusetts ̵1; and likely sent at least one person to a coma. Over the weekend, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported that a local resident contracted Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus. Dozens of communities remain critical or at high risk for the virus, and residents are advised to stay indoors at night.
Massachusetts health officials did not name the victim, though they did note that he was a resident of Plymouth County. age 60. WCVB 5 reported Tuesday that a woman who claimed to be a son in a Facebook post said she fell into a coma as a result. The man is the first confirmed human case reported by EEE since 2013.
"Today's news is evidence of significant danger from EEE and we ask residents to take this risk seriously," the commissioner said. Public Health Monica Bharel in a statement released Saturday. "We will continue to monitor this situation and the affected communities."
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EEE, as we have previously written, is a rare but potentially harmful threat to humans. The natural life cycle of the virus involves only mosquitoes and birds, and is the major carrier of mosquitoes that tend to live on humans. But other resident mosquitos can catch it from infected birds and then infect humans. Most human infections of the virus are not serious, but some that reach the brain can quickly worsen or cause long-term neurological symptoms. Currently, there is no specific treatment or vaccine for EEE.
The absolute risk for EEE remains rare. There are an average of seven cases of neurological infections caused by the virus reported annually, and only six cases are reported in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For comparison, the West Nile virus, the most common mosquitoborne disease in the US, caused at least 1,600 similar cases in 2018.
But as long as people live near mosquitoes, EEE is a potential danger to anyone. Areas most at risk for EEE are along the East Coast. Last July, Florida health officials reported that the virus had been detected in chickens. This Monday, Connecticut health officials reported mosquitoes in the state have recently been tested positive for both the EEE and the West Nile.
In Massachusetts, health officials declared nine communities at high risk for EEE, and another 15 at high risk. . They subsequently began aerial spraying in some of these areas over the weekend, and it is recommended that people use "mosquito bites and consider staying within the hours of dawn until six o'clock." dawn to reduce exposure to mosquitoes. "