Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) Risk High in Bridgewater

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced today that the risk for eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) in people has increased in a large part of southeastern Massachusetts, including Bridgewater. Due to EEE positive mosquito samples and the death of a horse from EEE in Middleborough, Lakeville and Middleborough were already considered to be at high risk for human disease. Today, the high risk area is being expanded to include the towns of Acushnet, Berkley, Bridgewater, Carver, Duxbury, Fairhaven, Freetown Halifax, Kingston, Mattapoisett, New Bedford, Plympton, Raynham, Rochester and Taunton. The towns immediately surrounding that area are at moderate risk.


EEE is a rare but serious illness spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. While EEE can infect people of all ages, people under 15 years of age or over 50 years of age are at greatest risk for serious illness.


By taking a few, common-sense precautions, people can help to protect themselves and their loved ones:


Avoid Mosquito Bites

· Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours - The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning. Otherwise, take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing.

· Clothing Can Help reduce mosquito bites. Although it may be difficult to do when it’s hot, wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.

· Apply Insect Repellent when you go outdoors. Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] according to the instructions on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age. Permethrin products are intended for use on items such as clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear and should not be applied to skin.


Mosquito-Proof Your Home

· Drain Standing Water - Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining or getting rid of items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change water in birdbaths frequently.

· Install or Repair Screens - Some mosquitoes like to come indoors. Keep them outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.


While Bridgewater continues to work closely with the MDPH and other agencies, locally we are actively notifying all citizens through public relations efforts utilizing local cable, newspapers and the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department public information system. Fact sheets on EEE and on reducing exposure to mosquitoes are available at www.bridgewaterma.org. In addition, the Town plans to undertake larviciding efforts.


Information about EEE and reports of EEE virus activity in Massachusetts during 2010 can be found on the MDPH website at www.mass.gov/dph under A for arbovirus in the Health Topics A to Z index. Recorded information about EEE is also available by calling the MDPH Public Health Information Line at 1-866-MASS-WNV (1-866-627-7968).

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