The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) today announced the first case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in a person. The patient, a male in his 20's from Newport County in Rhode Island, is in critical condition at a hospital in Rhode Island. His exposure to a mosquito carrying the EEE virus likely occurred in the southeastern section of Massachusetts that has been identified as an area of elevated risk. The onset of his symptoms occurred on August 5, prior to that evening’s start of aerial spraying in southeastern Massachusetts. Symptoms usually present themselves within two to 10 days of exposure. “Our thoughts continue to be with this patient and his family,” said Director of Health David R. Gifford, MD, MPH. “While we have not had any mosquitoes test positive for EEE in Rhode Island; this case is a reminder that everyone should continue to take steps to prevent mosquito bites and get rid of standing water on their property.” Aerial spraying in southeastern Massachusetts conducted from August 5 – August 7 has reduced the overall mosquito populations in southeastern Massachusetts (including the likely location of exposure in this case) by 80 percent and the number of mammal-biting mosquitoes by 90 percent. Mammal-biting mosquitoes pose the greatest risk to humans. “This is a tragic reminder of the very real threat of EEE that we’re facing in Massachusetts,” said DPH Commissioner John Auerbach, “Now more than ever, it’s important that each of us take the simple, very effective steps to protect ourselves from getting bitten by mosquitoes.” The last human case in Massachusetts was in 2008 and Rhode Island was in 1998. Massachusetts has confirmed 47 positive EEE pools in 2010. Rhode Island has not identified any positive EEE mosquito pools. EEE is usually spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. It is a serious disease in all ages and can even cause death in some cases. People have an important role to play in protecting themselves and their loved ones from illnesses caused by mosquitoes. Protect yourself: · Use bug spray with DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide). Make sure that bug spray does not have more than 30% DEET. Do not use bug spray with DEET on infants. · At sunrise and sundown (when mosquitoes are most active), minimize outside activities. If you must be outside, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and use bug spray. · Put mosquito netting over playpens and baby carriages. · Put screens on windows and doors. Fix screens that have holes.
Get rid of mosquito breeding grounds: · Get rid of anything around your house and yard that collects water. One cup of water can produce thousands of mosquitoes! · Change the water in birdbaths at least two times a week. · Clean your gutters so that they can drain properly. · Remove any water from unused swimming pools or boats and cover them. · Help your neighbors, friends and family do the same things. For more information on EEE, visit HEALTH’s website at http://www.health.ri.gov , visit CDC’s website at http://www.cdc.gov/EasternEquineEncephalitis/, or call HEALTH’s Information Line at 222-5960/RI Relay 711, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.