EEE Detected in Massachusetts Mosquitoes

A mosquito sample collected July 4 in Raynham, Mass., tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), the first sign of the virus this year, state health officials said Friday (July 6).

There have been no human (or equine) cases of the disease so far.

Officials said while the virus is appearing earlier than usual, overall mosquito numbers are down for this time of year.

There were five human cases of the virus in 2006, with two deaths. The virus is usually transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. The type of mosquitoes that usually carry the virus is found in freshwater, hardwood swamps, such as those found in southeastern Massachusetts.

Symptoms of the disease range from flu-like illness to inflammation of the brain and coma. About three of every 10 human cases is fatal, health officials say.

"We have had three years of significant EEE activity and are not sure what this year will bring," said Al DeMaria, chief medical officer of the state Department of Health.

DeMaria said the state's surveillance program is in place to provide early warnings of human risk and to serve as a reminder to use commonsense precautions such as wearing long sleeves and using repellent.

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The Associated Press

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