Mass Has First Case of EEE Virus; 9 Communities On Alert
The relatively deadly virus known as Eastern equine encephalitis hasn't been seen in Massachusetts for six years, but the streak was broken when a man over 60 in southern Plymouth county was confirmed to have contracted the disease, reports WCVB.
State health officials did not release which county the man who contracted the disease currently lives in, but they did put 9 surrounding communities on high alert, urging residents to stay inside after 6pm to avoid exposing themselves to infected mosquitoes. The communities at risk are: Carver, Lakeville, Marion, Middleborough, Rochester and Wareham in Plymouth County and Acushnet, Freetown and New Bedford in Bristol County.
A local health official in WCVB's coverage indicated just how deadly the rare virus can be:
"We see about a 40% mortality rate," Dr. Catherine Brown said, "and even survivors may be left permanently neurologically damaged."
Since the disease is spread by infected mosquitoes, health officials shut down parks and beaches this weekend at 6pm, despite their usual close-at-sundown policies. They also aerially sprayed insecticide from Thursday throughout the weekend in an attempt to prevent further infection. Luckily, Maine is far enough north that we have yet to see as large an occurrence of the disease as Massachusetts has in recent decades. Maine.gov indicates that the state has only documented 2 cases of infection and 1 death to date.