Yet another Massachusetts resident has died from the rare, dangerous mosquito-borne Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus, state health officials said this week. The death marks the fourth in the state and the 10th in the nation from the virus.
In a Wednesday news release, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said an Essex County man in his 70s died of the mosquito-borne ailment. His case marked the ninth in the state, officials said.
In response to the man’s death, the risk of EEE in several surrounding communities has been raised to high.
In the same release, officials announced that an 11th Massachusetts resident, also a man in his 70s, is infected with EEE. The patient, who was not identified, is from Worcester County.
“Although mosquito populations are declining at this time of year, risk from EEE will continue until the first hard frost.”
Aside from the four deaths in Massachusetts, there has been one EEE death in Rhode Island, two in Connecticut and three in Michigan. On average, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says five to 10 cases of EEE are reported each year in the U.S.
“Although mosquito populations are declining at this time of year, risk from EEE will continue until the first hard frost,” said Dr. Catherine Brown, a Massachusetts epidemiologist who recently explained why the state might be seeing more EEE cases than usual this year, in a statement. “We continue to emphasize the need for people to protect themselves from mosquito bites.”
The CDC describes EEE as “one of a group of mosquito-transmitted viruses that can cause inflammation of the brain (encephalitis).”
Symptoms of the virus typically appear about four to 10 days after the bite, with severe cases progressing to encephalitis. Patients may experience high fever, stiff neck, severe headache and lack of energy. Approximately one-third of patients who contract EEE will die, and there is no specific treatment for the virus. Health officials said the only way to protect against the virus is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
Fox News’ Alexandria Hein contributed to this report.