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First Human Case Of EEE In Massachusetts Since 2013 Confirmed

BOSTON (CBS) -- The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced that a person has been diagnosed with the Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus Saturday. This is the first human case of the disease in the state since 2013.

The man is over 60 and lives in southern Plymouth County, the DPH said.

"This is really a sobering reminder of why we take EEE so seriously in the Commonwealth," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown. "Because triple E is such a severe disease, the virus actually invades the central nervous system, the brain. This patient has been hospitalized...and at our last update he remains hospitalized."

There are nine communities at critical risk: Carver, Lakeville, Marion, Middleborough, Rochester, and Wareham in Plymouth County and Acushnet, Freetown, and New Bedford in Bristol County.

There are 15 more communities at high risk for EEE and 18 at moderate risk.

"EEE virus has been found in 227 mosquito samples this year, many of them from species of mosquitoes capable of spreading the virus to people," said the DPH.

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and DPH will be conducting aerial spraying in some areas of Bristol and Plymouth counties.

Residents should make efforts to avoid mosquito bites, which can spread EEE, including using insect repellent, being aware of peak mosquito hours (dusk to dawn), wearing long sleeve shirts and pants when outside, drains standing water from around your home, repaid window screens and protect your animals from mosquitos.

EEE symptoms can range from a stiff neck, headache and lack of energy to dangerous complications like inflammation and swelling of the brain.

The risk of EEE will remain until the first killing frost.

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