Eastern equine encephalitis detected in mosquito in Massachusetts

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A mosquito in Massachusetts has tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis, or EEE, state health officials announced Wednesday.
The disease is serious, and potentially fatal, officials said. Humans can contract the disease via the bite of an infected mosquito, and it can affect people of any age. People with severe cases of EEE tend to experience headaches, fever, and vomiting before the disease worsens, causing seizures or coma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Researchers from the state’s Public Health Laboratory took mosquito samples from Lakeville on Aug. 17. This is the first time the virus has been detected in a mosquito in Massachusetts this year. The last time there was a human case of EEE in Massachusetts was before 2017, officials said.

“We have been fortunate over the last several years to see little evidence of EEE activity,” said Monica Bharel, the state’s public health commissioner, according to a statement from the Department of Public Health. “Despite that, we know EEE occurs in Massachusetts and this is a timely reminder of that.”

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Health officials are urging residents to be mindful of the presence of potentially infected mosquitoes and to take precautions to avoid contracting the disease.

“People have an important role to play in protecting themselves and their loved ones from illnesses caused by mosquitoes,” according to the statement.
People can avoid mosquito bites by using DEET insect repellent, avoiding staying outdoors at night, wearing clothing that covers more skin, and installing or repairing screens on their windows and doors.

Andres Picon can be reached at andres.picon@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @andpicon.

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