Third human case of EEE raises threat level in Athol
ATHOL, Mass. (WHDH) -- A female from Athol was diagnosed with EEE, the third human case in Massachusetts this year.
Health officials are not releasing much information on the victim, but they said the female is under the age of 18 and is hospitalized. They believe she is doing a little bit better.
“It feels very random, and can hit just about everybody. It can have devastating effects,” said Kevin Cranston, of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. “We let folks know as soon as we confirm the case. So generally it’s about a two-week incubation period for the disease before the symptoms show.”
Schools are doing all they can to keep students safe -- they are canceling outdoor evening activities. Anything scheduled between 6:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. is canceled, rescheduled or relocated. Even some day-time activities will be moved indoors if the schools are located in marshy areas or ponds.
Last month, 79-year-old Westborough resident Benjamin Duce died after contracting EEE.
The latest diagnosis prompted health officials to raise the EEE threat level to critical and high in Franklin and Worcester counties.
“Having seen it throughout the state and east of that so it doesn’t surprise me that it has travelled this way,” said Chief Thomas Lozier, Athol Fire Department.
Officials urge communities at high or critical risk of EEE to cancel all planned evening outdoor events until the first hard frost.
“My concerns are just my kids. Making sure that they’re safe and healthy,” said Samantha North, a mother of two. “It is scary. My concern is that they like to play outside and there are a lot of mosquitoes outside.”
The Athol, and surrounding towns, boards of health ordered that all evening activities cease beginning at dusk and ending at dawn, according to Joan Hamlett of the Athol Health Department.
The police department handed out fliers informing the town about the hours of public parks. Officials want people to know that if they do go outside they should remain covered up and use insect repellent with DEET.