Eastern equine encephalitis has been detected in a mosquito in the state for the first time this year, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said Wednesday.
The presence of EEE was confirmed by the state lab Wednesday in two mosquito samples collected Monday in Easton and New Bedford.
No human or animal cases of EEE have been detected so far this year and health officials said there is no elevated risk level with the finding.
"It has been several years since we have had significant EEE activity in Massachusetts," state epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown said. "This is a relatively normal time of year for the first evidence of EEE; continued mosquito surveillance over the next several weeks will help us understand how active this season will be."
Although rare, EEE is a serious and potentially fatally disease. Symptoms can include fever, headache, stiff neck and sore throat.
Health officials are urging people to use insect repellent and to wear long sleeve shirts and pants to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes.
"People have an important role to play in protecting themselves and their loved ones from illnesses caused by mosquitoes. Now that we have evidence that both West Nile Virus and EEE are present this season, it is very important to take steps to prevent exposure to mosquitoes," Brown said.
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To learn more about how to protect yourself from the illness, visit mass.gov/dph/mosquito or call the DPH Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800.