Massachusetts Announces First Human Case Of EEE

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The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced the first human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in Massachusetts this year. The affected patient is a 73 year-old Essex County resident who first developed symptoms on September 21st while on vacation in Maine. After several weeks of hospitalization there, he was transferred to a hospital in Massachusetts where his prognosis remains guarded.

During the two weeks prior to becoming ill, the patient traveled in both New Hampshire and Maine and spent significant amounts of time outdoors. Although it is not possible to identify the exact location where he was exposed to the virus, it appears to have been acquired outside of Massachusetts. Public health authorities in New Hampshire and Maine have been advised of the patient's travel history and have been assisting with the disease investigation to identify areas of potential risk.

EEE is usually spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. EEE is a serious disease in all ages and can even cause death.

"Each year, we always hope that there won't be any cases of EEE", said DPH State Epidemiologist Dr. Alfred DeMaria. "This case serves to remind us that while outbreaks of this disease tend to take place in high risk areas like southeastern Massachusetts, people can get infected even outside those areas. We always recommend that people use mosquito repellant and cover up to protect themselves no matter where they are."

There were no human cases of EEE during 2007; however there were 13 cases with 6 deaths from 2004 through 2006. EEE results from 2008 can be found on the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page at westnile.ashtonweb.com .

While peak mosquito season is behind us, residents are reminded that mosquitoes continue to be present until the first hard frost of the autumn.

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People have an important role to play in protecting themselves and their loved ones from illnesses caused by mosquitoes:

Avoid Mosquito Bites

Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning.

Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites. Wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.

Apply Insect Repellent when outdoors. Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] or IR3535 according to the instructions 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.

Mosquito-Proof Your Home

Drain Standing Water. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change water in birdbaths frequently.

Install or Repair Screens. Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.

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