SEEKONK — Eastern equine encephalitis has been detected in mosquitoes in town for the first time, officials announced Tuesday.
The state Department of Public Health found EEE in the mosquitoes and now classifies Seekonk as being at moderate risk for the disease.
EEE has been increasingly prevalent this year and sickened a number of people and farm animals in New England. There have also been several human and animal deaths.
The mosquitoes that carry the virus are common throughout the state and are found in urban as well as more rural areas. While EEE can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe infection.
West Nile virus, which also can be serious and is also spread by mosquito bites, was found in Seekonk Aug. 30.
By taking a few, common sense precautions, people can help protect themselves and their loved ones, health officials advise.
State health officials have advised rescheduling or canceling evening outdoor activities because mosquitoes are most active between dusk and dawn.
Other steps recommended are eliminating standing water on property, using screens and insect repellent, and wearing long-sleeve shirts and long pants.
“We continue to emphasize the need for people to protect themselves from mosquito bites,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown said. “Although mosquito populations are beginning to decline, risk from EEE will continue until the first hard frost.”
The virus usually intensifies about once a decade and persists two to three years, and the state has just started a new such period for EEE, state officials say.
Residents are encouraged to visit the DPH website at www.mass.gov/eee for the latest updates on spraying in their communities and other information.