The number of disease-carrying mosquitoes captured by public health officials in Massachusetts has been unusually high this year. Mosquitoes carrying the west Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) have been collected in numerous cities across Massachusetts. Last year, a total of 49 Massachusetts residents contracted the west Nile virus, more than any other year on record. West Nile disease cases tend to peak during August, and luckily, not a single resident of the state has contracted the disease so far this summer. However, the same cannot be said about EEE, as the first person in Massachusetts since 2013 contracted the disease last month, and now, a second resident has contracted the often fatal disease. Not much is being released to the media concerning the second victim’s condition, but authorities state that the victim is between the ages of 19 and 30, and he contracted the disease from a mosquito bite near his east Worcester home.
EEE is considered rare, but the disease’s fatality rate is relatively high at 30 percent. The number of Massachusetts communities at high EEE risk have jumped substantially in the past week. Currently, 19 communities are at critical risk for EEE, 18 are at high risk, and 24 are at moderate risk, according to officials with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. In response to the high number of EEE-infected mosquitoes, aerial spraying was conducted last week, but now additional communities will undergo aerial spraying to prevent further disease cases. State health officials have also announced that west Nile-infected mosquitoes have been collected from Boston for the first time this year. A significant number of west Nile-infected mosquitoes have also been collected from Worcester recently, prompting officials to resort to aerial spraying with the hopes that this year will not see one single human west Nile case. On August 13th, numerous west Nile-infected mosquitoes were also collected from Lakeville, Cambridge, Canton, Halifax, Lakeville, Middleboro and Newton. The importance of removing areas of standing water from properties as well as applying EPA approved repellents cannot be stressed enough, as the chances of further mosquito-borne disease cases in the state are likely.
Do you live in a community where disease-carrying mosquitoes have been found?