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DPH: 28 grassroots communities hit "critical" level of risk for EEE





METHUEN, Mass. ̵

1; After four horses tested positive Thursday for eastern equine encephalitis, known as EEE, the risk level was raised to critical in Medfield, Holliston, Brookfield and Granby.

This brings the total number of EEE-infected horses to seven in Massachusetts this year.

There are currently 28 communities at critical risk, 37 at high risk and 126 at moderate risk for EEE in the country.

>> MORE: Communities nationwide tested positive for EEE and West Nile Virus (WNV)

" When we go to Labor Day weekend and September, people don't have to forget to bring and use EPA approved. mosquitoes are repulsive for any outdoor activity, "said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel. "Peak time for transmission of mosquito-borne disease extends to September here in Massachusetts."

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has confirmed the cases, extending the risk to more parts of the state. Massachusetts won't be aerial spraying, but the citywide mosquito control spraying in Norfolk County will happen Friday night, with additional ground spraying in Holiston over the weekend.

All public schools in the city and Medfield outdoor activities will be closed at 7 pm and night games will be re-assigned.

Last week at the Methuen Con tested positive for the disease and employees said you should limit your time outdoors after sunset.

"We are extremely cautious about this," said Methuen Mayor James Jajuga. "We don't want anyone to get sick and, most importantly, we don't want anyone to lose their [lives]."

City officials quickly decided to cancel all city-sponsored outdoor activities in the evening, including sports events.

>> MORE: Mosquito-borne diseases in Massachusetts

"So nothing after 19:00 will happen again," said Amy Ewing, public health nurse at Methuen. "And that goes on until September 30, and on October 1, that time will drop to 6 hours."

They are still working to determine what to do for tomorrow's activities.

"We will discuss this tomorrow," Ewing said Monday. "School starts on Wednesday, so tomorrow we have to do more planning that we need for safety purposes."

The Westborough Health Council even voted to ban outdoor activities effective Monday afternoon because of the high threat of EEE in this town. They don't want anyone to go from dusk until dawn so they don't get bitten by an EEE mosquito.

"Entertainment programs for every city or school," says Westbury Public Health Director Stephen Bakari. "We have asked all programs to stop by 7am. It will now include all city-owned parks."

According to the public health department, Westbrother is one of nearly two dozen communities considered "critical risk" for EEE.

In Norfolk County, trucks are expected to hit the road Monday night after the sun goes down to spray for EEE.

Related: Mosquito Dispersal in Specific Cities, prompting residents to ask what is in it

Dave Lawson, director of the Norfolk County mosquito control area, says a big reason we see the virus jump mosquito-borne is the rainy weather we've had this year.

"There was a wet spring and it was a wetter summer than we have in many years, so mosquito populations have grown," Lawson says.

The risk level for Andover was also raised from moderate to high Monday afternoon, adding to a series of early-day risk alerts.

According to DPH, EEE is extremely rare. But there have been four human cases of the mosquito-borne virus in the country in the last month alone. They are the first reported cases of an epidemic in 2013.

Symptoms of EEE

The first symptoms of EEE are sudden onset of headache, fever, chills and vomiting. Then, as the virus progresses, an infected person may experience disorientation and seizures.

The CDC says that these symptoms start somewhere between four and 10 days from the time someone is bitten by an infected mosquito.

As for those most at risk, the CDC says that those who live and visit high-risk areas are both over 50 and under 15.

But anyone can get the virus.

"We are all at risk of mosquito bites, no matter how old you are or where you live or something," Ewing said. "So I think the most critical information here is that people should be protected from mosquito bites. "

Related:

Mosquito-borne diseases in Massachusetts

A family says Fairhaven died from EEE; Fourth case of a person diagnosed in Bristol Co.


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