LONGMEADOW, Mass (WWLP) — While Saturday wasn’t too hot or humid, like most of our summer has been, 22News found that our recent weather conditions have contributed to the arrival of a potentially deadly disease in the Bay State.
Mosquitoes: we’ve talked about them for months, and for the first time this year mosquitoes have infected someone in Massachusetts with eastern equine encephalitis, or triple E.
The Massachusetts Department of Health just confirmed that a July 15th laboratory test in Plymouth County has tested positive for EEE, a dangerous virus that can cause inflammation of the brain and in one third of cases, death.
Even though the only reported case of EEE in Massachusetts was more than 80 miles to our east, our chances in western Massachusetts of getting it just went up. But it probably wouldn’t be the mosquitoes bringing it here.
Birds are typically the long range carrier of triple E, taking the disease over many miles. Mosquitoes then bite the birds and become the local source for infection when they bite a human.
Entomologist Bob Russell of American Pest Solutions told 22News, “Mosquitoes are an unusual insect because bacteria can survive in its gut and then it can be regurgitated or come out in its saliva when it bites, and that’s how you get transmission.”
The best defense against EEE is avoiding a mosquito bite. Wearing long clothes, avoiding wooded or wet areas and wearing bug spray with the chemical DEET should help with that.
“Especially my kids. Going to camp, I put the bug spray on. I try to put it more on their clothes so it’s not on their skin, or buy the one that’s more organic, but yah I do the bug spray,” said Caroline Beaudoin of Longmeadow.
Mosquitoes are out more in the early morning hours or around dusk, but on a cloudy day there are more of them out.