A third person from Massachusetts has died after contracting Eastern equine encephalitis, a state public health official said Monday night.
The person’s identity, hometown, gender, and age were not released.
“We were recently notified by a hospital of another EEE death,” Ann Scales, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Health, said in a brief e-mail.
The death is the third among 10 human cases of EEE confirmed in the state, she said.
No further information was released. 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. Those who recover from it often live with severe and devastating neurological complications. There is no treatment.
Among the state residents who have contracted the disease this year is 5-year-old Sophia Garabedian from Sudbury, who has been transferred from Boston Children’s Hospital to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston where she continues to recover.
This year’s outbreak is the largest since the 1950s, state epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown said in a previous report by the Globe. In early September, Brown said that while local mosquito populations are beginning to decrease because of the cooler autumn temperatures, EEE risk in Massachusetts will continue until not just the first frost, but the first “hard frost.”
In Rhode Island, at least three people have been diagnosed with EEE this year, and one of them, a West Warwick resident, died earlier this month.
As of Monday, more than 30 Massachusetts communities were at critical risk for EEE, which is the highest level of risk. Those communities included municipalities as far west as Heath, as far north as Methuen, and as far south as New Bedford. A handful of MetroWest communities, including Framingham, Sudbury, and Hopkinton, were also at critical risk on Monday.
Critical risk prompts the state to encourage outdoor gatherings like organized sports events be cancelled or rescheduled to avoid the peak mosquito hours from dusk until dawn.
Emily Sweeney of Globe staff contributed to this report. Abigail Feldman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.