Seven cases of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), a mosquito-borne disease that is fatal to humans and animals, have been confirmed by the outbreak that began this summer in western Massachusetts. While Medford and Somerville are at low risk for the disease, Grafton, where Tufts & Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine is located, is one of 36 Massachusetts communities with a "critical" risk for the disease.
The latest case, according to the Boston Globe, struck a middle-aged man in Bristol, Massachusetts. The second human EEE case this year in Massachusetts was reported in Grafton in August. In addition, there have been two reported cases of EEE in horses this year, according to Boston 25. News.
At the Grafton campus, the administration has taken a number of steps to raise awareness and take precautionary measures against it. In addition, the campus has recently been sprayed to counter mosquitoes at least twice, according to Joseph McManus, an associate associate dean at Cummings School.
In addition to these aerial sprays made by the state government, the campus in Grafton itself has taken measures to combat the mosquito threat. According to Cummings student Alexandra Fielding, the university has been consistent in communicating preventative measures and the risk of EEE to students, from the day the first case was reported in Grafton in August until now.
The school purchased a mosquito repellent, provided it to students, and moved the evening event indoors because of the increased threat of contracting the disease later in the day, according to Barbara Berman, assistant dean for student affairs at Cummings School.
"We advised members to take standard precautions, such as wearing long pants and long sleeves, using insect repellent when outdoors, and trying to stay indoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are the most active, "Berman says in an interview with the Daily.
Tufts worked closely with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Grafton Health Council during this outbreak and following their patronage instructions chile, according to René Fielding, director of emergency management at Tufts.
"In this case, we sent out messages to the community to raise awareness, provide prevention information and inform people about the state spraying," Fielding told the Daily . "The Massachusetts Department of Public Health and our local health councils are well aware of the proactive provision of information and guidance to their constituents, including Tufts University."
The Cummings School has taken "Prevention of the disease is being done with the help of local and state agencies, as well as a professor at the school, who is the lead authority on the matter," McManus said. Professor Sam Telford, whose focus is infectious diseases and global health, is working closely with the school to take proactive steps against the spread of EEE.
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Recently, last week, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources sprayed several counties west of Boston with a mosquito plane, according to a state website.
"The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources will conduct aerial spraying in certain areas of Middlesex, Norfolk and Worcester beginning the evening of Tuesday, September 10, and continuing several evenings," an online statement from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said.