The scourge of EEE has extended to the Outer Cape, with mosquitos carrying the potentially deadly disease detected in Wellfleet, according to town officials.
In a statement dated Wednesday, officials at the popular summer tourist hub said the “Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) announced today that EEE virus has been detected in mosquitoes collected from Wellfleet. The samples were taken on August 29, 2019 and we continue to sample the area.”
The release said that “EEE is a rare but serious illness spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. While EEE can infect people of all ages, people under 15 years of age or over 50 years of age are at greatest risk for serious illness. By taking a few, common-sense precautions, people can help to protect themselves and their loved ones.”
Those precautions include being aware of peak mosquito hours from dusk to dawn, wearing long sleeves, long pants, and socks, and using insect repellent with DEET, officials said.
Word of the Wellfleet EEE detection came as state public health authorities on Thursday announced that the state’s fifth human case of EEE this year had been confirmed in a man in his 70s from southwestern Middlesex County.
The case prompted officials to raise the risk level for EEE in Ashland, Hopedale, and Milford to critical and the risk level in Bellingham, Blackstone, and Millville to high.
All told, there are now 32 communities at critical risk, 39 at high risk, and 121 at moderate risk, according to the state’s Department of Public Health.
Before Thursday’s announcement, there were four human cases in the state, including one where a Fairhaven woman died.
Eastern equine encephalitis is a rare but potentially fatal disease that can cause brain inflammation and is transmitted to humans bitten by infected mosquitoes, according to federal authorities. About one-third of infected individuals who develop the disease will die, according to federal officials, and those who recover often live with severe and devastating neurological complications. There is no treatment for EEE.
Eight horses and a goat were reported with the disease in August, according to state health officials.