Officials announced Friday an eighth human case of Eastern equine encephalitis has been confirmed in Massachusetts this year, a man in his 50s from northeastern Bristol County.
“Even though it is September, it is still mosquito season,” Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel said in a statement. “We continue to emphasize the need for people to protect themselves from mosquito bites.”
EEE 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, officials have said, and those who recover often live with severe and devastating neurological complications. There is no treatment for EEE.
Earlier this year, a Fairhaven woman with EEE died.
In another EEE case, 5-year-old Sophia Garabedian of Sudbury has been moved out of the intensive care unit at Boston Children’s Hospital and is continuing her recovery, according to an organizer of her family’s online fund-raiser.
“Sophia continues to make progress and has been moved out of the ICU,” Moynihan wrote. “She has begun PT, OT and speech therapy as she continues to show signs of improvement. This morning she had pet therapy. We would like to thank everyone for their support, thoughtfulness and generosity.”
There are currently 35 Massachusetts communities at critical risk for EEE in the state, 38 at high risk, and 120 at moderate risk, according to the state’s Department of Public Health.
The state is currently conducting aerial mosquito spraying in parts of Middlesex, Worcester, and Norfolk counties, something that is anticipated to continue through the weekend.
More rounds of spraying are also planned for other parts of the state. State officials said the next round of aerial mosquito spraying is expected to start as early as Monday evening, “weather and equipment permitting” in Central and Western Massachusetts. Communities that are scheduled to be partially or fully sprayed over the next week include Brimfield, Palmer, Ware, Brookfield, Charlton, East Brookfield, New Braintree, North Brookfield, Southbridge, Sturbridge, Warren, and West Brookfield.
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources “continues to conduct aerial spraying and also supports the use of truck-based ground spraying as conditions allow this season,” said the department’s commissioner, John Lebeaux, in a statement.
“We continue to urge the public to use the insect repellents suggested by MA DPH, wear long sleeves and pants, and stay indoors from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are most active,” he said.
Local communities are continuing truck-mounted ground spraying for mosquitoes, according to state authorities. Spraying does not eliminate the risk of EEE transmission, officials say.