Human-biting mosquitoes infected with Eastern equine encephalitis have been detected in New Bedford and Westborough, Massachusetts public health officials announced Thursday.
The latest batch in New Bedford is the second time this season that human-biting, EEE-infected mosquitoes have been found in that city.
Eastern equine-carrying mosquitoes had been identified in Westborough last month, but they were not the species that typically bites people.
As a result of the latest findings, health officials have raised the EEE threat level to “high” in these two communities and recommend that outdoor evening events be curtailed there for the remainder of the summer. Mosquitoes typically are most active between dusk and dawn.
Ground-based spraying by mosquito control projects is ongoing in both New Bedford and Westborough and will be enhanced, officials said.
“We continue to see elevated levels of EEE activity in mosquitoes across the region, so it’s more important than ever for people to take precautions to avoid getting bit,” Dr. Al DeMaria, the state’s top disease tracker, said in a statement. “Use insect repellant, cover up exposed skin, and avoid outdoor activities at dusk and nighttime, when mosquitoes are at their most active.”
There has been one confirmed human case of EEE in a Massachusetts resident this year, a Metrowest resident believed to have contracted the disease while traveling out of state.
There were two cases of EEE in August last year acquired in Massachusetts; a fatal case in a Bristol County man and an infection in a tourist visiting Massachusetts from out of state. EEE is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito, and about a third of cases are fatal.