The potentially deadly virus EEE was detected in a ninth person in Massachusetts this year, state health officials said Wednesday.
The person, a man in his 70s, is from Essex County, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said in a statement, and the Manchester-by-the-Sea Board of Health said the man lives there. Risk levels were raised to high in Ipswich and Topsfield.
It's not clear where the new patient contracted the mosquito-borne virus because he works in Ipswich, Boxford, Topsfield, Essex, Gloucester and Manchester, according to the town officials' statement.
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Precautions were taken on the football field in Topsfield Wednesday. Parents are using bug spray on their children and taking no chances.
"Put it on their uniform, their legs, and just pray, hope for the best," explained mom Jennifer Turosky.
"You try to eliminate your outdoor activities, but we're here at football practice, and we have to be out here, so it's bug spray and the common sense precautions we take all summer," said parent Mike Kenny.
The eastern equine encephalitis outbreak has spanned New England. Two people have died — one in Massachusetts, one in Rhode Island — among 13 human cases reported in those states and Connecticut.
Two new EEE cases were reported in Rhode Island Tuesday, one of them a child.
Authorities have been spraying across New England to tamp down mosquito populations and mitigate the threat. The virus the insects can transmit affects the nervous system and kills about three in 10 people who contract it, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But the threat from EEE-carrying mosquitoes may soon be dealt a serious blow in New England, thanks to cold temperatures.
Frost and freeze warnings were in place for parts of northern New England and western Massachusetts Wednesday night, and temperatures in the 40s and 50s in the rest of the region.
Frosts can seriously diminish mosquito populations, while freezes wipe them out, Pete Bouchard has reported.
Many communities at critical or serious risk of EEE transmission in Massachusetts have curtailed outdoor activities at dusk, when mosquitoes are most active, until the first frost hits.