After reports of several EEE cases in US, Massachusetts public health officials have confirmed another human case of eastern equine encephalitis, making it the eighth reported case of the season. The confirmation came from the Massachusetts Health Officials on Friday, September 13.
The person who has been reported to be infected by EEE is identified to be around 50-year-old man from northeastern Bristol County. According to the state Department of Public Health, the person has tested positive for the EEE virus. While this is the eight human case of the year, seven horses and a goat have also been infected this year. There has also been one human case of West Nile virus. Of the previous seven human cases, there was a 5-year-old girl, and an adult woman.
“Even though it is September, it is still mosquito season,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, adding, “We continue to emphasize the need for people to protect themselves from mosquito bites.”
As many as 35 communities have been declared to be at critical risk for EEE, while 38 at high risk, and 120 at moderate risk.
The DPH and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources are planning a round of aerial spraying to begin as early as Monday, September 16, evening in parts of Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester counties. The health officials have urge residents to use insect repellent when mosquitoes are at their most active.
It is to known that Eastern equine encephalitis, commonly called Triple E or sleeping sickness, is a zoonotic alphavirus and arbovirus present in North, Central, and South America, and the Caribbean. EEE was first recognized in Massachusetts, United States, in 1831, when 75 horses died mysteriously of viral encephalitis.
Eastern equine encephalitis virus or EEEV is spread by Culiseta melanura mosquitoes and avian hosts in freshwater hardwood swamps. While Cs. melanura feeds almost exclusively on birds, the transmission to EEEV to humans requires mosquito species such as some Aedes, Coquillettidia, and Culex species.