Massachusetts DPH announces first confirmed case of EEE this year

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced on Tuesday the first confirmed human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis, which claimed the life of a Massachusetts woman in her 80s last week.

The DPH is conducting an investigation to find the source of the infection. EEE is a mosquito-borne illness that is a serious threat to anyone at any age because it can quickly cause swelling of the brain that leads to death.

"Our condolences go out to this individual's family and friends," DPH Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett said. "This underscores the serious nature of EEE and the need for vigilance. While the investigation is ongoing, this is a reminder to continue to use personal protection against mosquito bites, including covering exposed skin when outdoors, limiting outdoor activities between dusk and dawn, and using approved insect repellants."

There were seven confirmed human cases of EEE in Massachusetts last year. Although the number of EEE infections is low, the DPH still recommends people in Massachusetts take preventative methods against mosquito bites, such as wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants and staying away from reservoirs with still water.

Some of the first signs of an EEE infection are fever, headache, fatigue and stiff neck; the symptoms of EEE typically onset three to ten days following exposure. Encephalitis or coma may progress shortly after the onset of the first symptoms.