AMHERST, Mass. - The Massachusetts Department of Health says the Eastern equine encephalitis, or EEE, virus has been found in mosquitoes collected the area. West Nile was found in nearby Northampton, Mass.
The Amherst discovery is the first of the EEE virus confirmed in mosquitoes this year, but no human cases of either of the two mosquito-borne viruses have been reported.
Eastern equine encephalitis is a rare but serious illness caused by the EEE virus. It can spread to humans through infected mosquitoes. Most at risk of developing EEE are people under 15 or over 50, and those with weak immune systems. Berkshire County Mosquito Control Superintendent Chris Horton says, despite the findings, there is no reason residents should panic.
"We've found two infected mosquitoes, so this is by far nothing to panic about. By taking a few, common-sense precautions, people can help to protect themselves and their loved ones. Simple steps like wearing long-sleeved clothing and bug repellent when out in mosquito-prone areas during peak mosquito times, which is between dusk and dawn."
If you have any questions about Eastern equine virus or the West Nile virus found in Massachusetts mosquitoes, call the Amherst Public Health Nurse at 413-259-3077 or the State Health Department at 413-587-1214.
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