BOSTON, MA — If you’re a hunter, angler, hiker, or just planning to spend some time outdoors, you should be aware of EEE. Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is a very rare but serious disease caused by a virus that can affect people of all ages. EEE is spread to humans through the bite of a mosquito infected with the virus. EEE can cause severe illness and possibly lead to death in any age group; however, people under age 15 and over 50 are at particular risk. EEE does not occur every year, but based on mosquito sampling, a high risk of occurrence of human cases currently exists in areas of Massachusetts. Learn more about EEE in Massachusetts and view the latest EEE Map to see areas of high risk.
Tips to minimize risk
The greatest risk that people face from EEE is exposure to mosquitoes. Minimize your risk of mosquito bites by taking the following precautions:
- Wear an effective mosquito repellent with DEET, permethrin, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus while outdoors. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.
- Limit exposed skin by wearing long sleeves and pants.
- Stay indoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
Wildlife and EEE
While many species of animals, including deer and birds, can become infected with EEE, there is no evidence that people become sick from handling animals or eating game. Anyone observing wildlife that are behaving abnormally or appear sick should contact the closest MassWildlife office during business hours. Hunters can find additional tips to minimize risk from wildlife diseases by taking standard precautions when handling game; click here to read more.
Tips to protect pets
When hunting, walking, or training outdoors with a dog, you can take additional precautions. Dogs can become infected with EEE by the bite of an infected mosquito, however dogs rarely become ill from the virus.
- Apply mosquito repellents that are approved for veterinary use on your dog. Mosquito repellents recommended for humans are not approved for veterinary use. Consult with your veterinarian for advice about safe mosquito repellents for your dog. Read the product label before using and follow all instructions carefully.
- While the risk of EEE transmission to dogs from eating or otherwise coming into contact with infected birds or mammals is considered low, consider limiting your dog’s contact with game, especially the brain and spinal tissue.
For questions about your dog’s health, contact your veterinarian.
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