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First Human EEE Case Reported in Essex County

The first case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in a human is a man in his 70s in Georgetown.

The first case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in a human in Essex County has been reported in Georgetown, according to the state Department of Public Health and a report in the Newburyport Daily News.

No human cases of EEE or West Nile Virus have been reported in Marblehead.

Georgetown Town Administrator Michael Farrell told the Daily News that the man in his 70s is hospitalized with EEE and is in a medically induced coma. Farrell told the paper that “the prognosis isn’t good.”

The unidentified man is the fifth person to contact the disease this summer.

Last month, a horse in Georgetown contracted EEE and died, the paper reported. The town, which is about 10 miles northwest of the two towns, was already considered at “critical risk.”

EEE is a rare disease in humans that is fatal about half the time in Massachusetts. There have been fewer than 100 cases in Massachusetts since the disease was first discovered in the state in 1938, according to the state Department of Public Health. There is no vaccine for humans. A complete fact sheet about EEE from the state Department of Public Health is attached to this story as a PDF.

EEE is spread by infected mosquitoes. Here are some things you can do to reduce your chances of being bitten, according to the state Department of Public Health:

• Schedule outdoor events to avoid the hours between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.

• When you are outdoors, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and socks. This may be difficult to do when the weather is hot, but it will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.

• Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), IR3535 (3-[N-butyl-N-acetyl]-aminopropionic acid) or oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-menthane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] according to the instructions given on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30 percent or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.  Permethrin products are intended for use on items such as clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear and should not be applied to skin.

• Keep mosquitoes out of your house by repairing any holes in your screens and making sure they are tightly attached to all your doors and windows.

• Remove areas of standing water around your home.  Here are some suggestions:

- Look around outside your house for containers and other things that might collect water and turn them over, regularly empty them, or dispose of them.  

- Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are left outdoors so that water can drain out.

-Clean clogged roof gutters; remove leaves and debris that may prevent drainage of rainwater.

- Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.

- Change the water in birdbaths every few days; aerate ornamental ponds or stock them with fish.

- Keep swimming pools clean and properly chlorinated; remove standing water from pool covers.

- Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property.

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