After many years with no human cases of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) in Massachusetts, a new study done in the state shows that cases have risen in recent years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, EEE is extremely rare in humans and is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. After experiencing flu-like symptoms, the affected person is likely to slip into a coma or have a seizure; many people who survive EEE suffer brain damage as a result.
Last year in Massachusetts, an 80-year-old man, Martin Newfield, died of EEE, the first such death in the state since 2006. Following Newfield’s death, his community came together, demanding answers and action.
“Even a single human case stands out in our data because we have many, many years of no human cases,” said Kevin Cranston of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
The state’s report on EEE is scheduled to be completed by the end of this month. Southeast Mosquito Response Planning Committee, a group of 12 health agents, continues to push the state of Massachusetts to increase its efforts against EEE by spraying for mosquitoes.