The Department of Public Health (DPH) today reported a 3-year-old horse from Lancaster has been diagnosed with eastern equine encephalitis (EEE). EEE infection was confirmed by the State Laboratory Institute today. He developed symptoms on August 12 and died the following day. A horse from Warren, also in Worcester County, was diagnosed with EEE earlier this summer.
A Rhode Island resident was diagnosed with EEE this past weekend and was likely exposed to the virus in the area of southeastern Massachusetts designated as high risk. EEE is usually spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. EEE is a serious disease in all ages and can even cause death.
“These horse cases bring our attention to the risk of human disease”, said DPH State Epidemiologist Dr. Alfred DeMaria. “Historically, Worcester County has been an area of low, but not zero, risk for EEE while WNV presents a greater risk. What this emphasizes is the need for people to take precautions against mosquitoes no matter where they live in Massachusetts.”