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Massachusetts authorities urge protective measures after mosquitoes test positive for two viruses

Massachusetts authorities urge protective measures after mosquitoes test positive for two viruses

Massachusetts authorities urge protective measures after mosquitoes test positive for two viruses

Health officials on Wednesday urged Bay State residents to use insect repellent outdoors this summer after mosquito samples tested positive for two viruses.

The Department of Public Health said the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus was detected in mosquito samples collected June 30 in Carver. The DPH alert comes a day after officials said the Massachusetts State Public Health Laboratory identified West Nile virus (WNV) in two mosquito samples collected June 25 in Quincy.

According to health officials, there have been no reported cases of EEE or WNV in humans or animals this year. Officials said Carver, Kingston, Middleborough, Plymouth, Plympton and Wareham are now at a moderate risk level for EEE.

“The last cycle of EEE outbreaks in Massachusetts occurred in 2019-2020, and since then, there have been no reported human cases of EEE in the state,” DPH Commissioner Dr. Robbie Goldstein said in a statement Wednesday. “Today’s finding alerts us to the presence of EEE in Massachusetts this year. Combined with yesterday’s announcement about West Nile virus in mosquitoes in Massachusetts, we are asking everyone to take the necessary precautions to prevent mosquito bites.”

Authorities described EEE as a “rare but serious and potentially fatal disease.” The virus claimed six lives in 2019 and one in 2020.

People 50 and older are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus, officials said. Symptoms of the virus include fever and flu-like symptoms.

DPH recommended that people consider rescheduling their outdoor activities during peak mosquito hours, which are from dusk to dawn, as well as wearing clothing such as long sleeves and long pants to reduce mosquito bites.

“EEE activity in Massachusetts tends to occur in outbreak cycles,” said state epidemiologist Catherine Brown. “When EEE is detected in mosquitoes like this early in the season, the risk can increase throughout the rest of the summer.”