ORANGE (CBS) — For the first time this summer, EEE has been detected in a sample of Massachusetts mosquitoes. The Department of Public Health said a mosquito sample collected July 1 in Orange tested positive for eastern equine encephalitis.

As a result, the state raised the EEE risk level to moderate in Orange and neighboring Athol.

“We have been preparing for EEE activity this year,’’ said Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel in a statement. “It is early in the year for the first evidence of EEE, therefore, continued mosquito surveillance over the next several weeks will help us understand more about how quickly the virus might emerge this year.”

EEE can be deadly. There were 12 human cases of EEE in the state last year, and six people died. There were also nine cases found in domestic animals.

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So far, no Massachusetts residents have been infected in 2020.

“People have been spending time indoors due to COVID-19 and now, as we venture out, we want to remind people about the need to protect themselves and their loved ones from illnesses caused by mosquitoes,’’ state epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown said.

Residents are urged to used bug spray when outdoors and consider staying inside during the peak mosquito hours of dawn and dusk. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants can also protect against mosquitoes.

 

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