Massachusetts Announces First EEE Case In Horse

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced that a horse from Peabody has been diagnosed with Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). The diagnosis of EEE infection was confirmed by the New Hampshire State Vector-Borne Disease Laboratory today.

The one-year old horse developed symptoms on September 18th and died on September 19th. As a result of this finding, the EEE risk level in the town of Peabody has been increased from ‘Remote’ to ‘High.’ Risk levels in the four neighboring towns of Danvers, Middleton, Lynnfield, and North Reading have increased from ‘Remote’ to ‘Low.’

“This latest development is an indication that we have reached the next level of risk for EEE,” said DPH State Epidemiologist Dr. Alfred DeMaria. “Horses and humans tend to get infected later in the mosquito season, once the virus has multiplied enough in birds and mosquitoes. The fact that a horse has gotten sick from EEE means that people are at increased risk as well.”

There was one human case of EEE during 2008; however there were 13 cases with six deaths from 2004 through 2006. EEE results from 2009 can be found on the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page at

EEE is a serious disease in people of all ages and can even cause death. The virus is usually spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. While peak mosquito season is behind us, residents are reminded that mosquitoes continue to be present until the first hard frost.

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.