Mosquito-borne virus kills one and four sick in Massachusetts as health officials warn people to use DEET insect repellent while EEE threat seizes state
- Eastern horse encephalitis is a rare disease transmitted by mosquitoes
- It causes life-threatening brain swelling
- American cases average 7 per year, but Massachusetts has already seen 4 and one death
- State health officials warned that 4 more infected horses mean risk & # 39; s & # 39; critical & # 39; are in 28 communities prior to Labor Day weekend
The risks of residents of Massachusetts for a potentially deadly mosquito-borne virus are now & # 39; critical & # 39 ;, public health officials announced prior to Labor Day weekend in a Thursday statement.
Up to now, four cases of Eastern horsececealitis (EEE) have been confirmed in people in the state. One woman has died and three people are sick.
But the officials' last warning comes after the department confirmed four additional cases in horses – a total of seven this year – a bellwether that the disease could still spread actively.
Officials warn that the risk is now & # 39; critical & # 39; is in 28 communities in Massachusetts, & # 39; high & # 39; in 37 and moderate in 126 cities and towns, and advise citizens to be outside at sunrise and sunset and wear DEET insect repellent to minimize risk.
The risk of transmitting Oriental horse encephalitis is crucial in 28 communities in Massachusetts (red) and high in 37 (orange) state officials warned prior to Labor Day weekend
& # 39; As we enter the Labor Day weekend and September, people should not forget to take an EPA approved mosquito spray and use it for outdoor activities & # 39 ;, said Dr. Monica Bharel, Health Commissioner.
So far, 366 mosquitoes tested in the state have been positive for EEE.
The virus carried by the insects first causes flu-like symptoms that can then turn into life-threatening brain swelling.
Many patients fall into a coma. About a third death from the disease or its complications.
On average, there are only seven cases of EEE in humans every year in the US – but the number is increasing as global warming drives up the temperature, scientists suspect.
Massachusetts is already on its way to surpass that total.
New Jersey and Michigan have confirmed one case each.
This week's updated risk levels are largely updated due to the detection of the virus in additional horses in Massachusetts, rather than confirmed human cases, but health department officials are urging people to take their warnings seriously.
"Horses and other mammals are an important part of the surveillance of mosquito-borne diseases because they are exposed to the same types of mosquitoes that people can expose," said state epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown.
Residents of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, have reported that they find dead birds that they are concerned about carrying the virus.
Health officials in the city are unable to test the birds for EEE and beg their citizens to stop bringing the deceased animals to their offices.
Aside from wearing insect repellent, draining stagnant water can help reduce the risk of EEE transfer because stagnant water is a fertile breeding ground for insects.
Installing window screens can also help keep mosquitoes out and, if you need to go outside, officials recommend wearing long sleeves and pants.
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