PROVIDENCE, R.I., Aug. 16 (UPI) — A Rhode Island man is in critical condition after contracting Eastern equine encephalitis in Massachusetts earlier this month, health officials say.
The man, in his 20s, is the first case of the mosquito-borne disease to be reported this summer in either state, the Providence (R.I.) Journal reported Monday.
Health officials say they believe he was exposed to the virus during outdoor activities Aug. 5 in southeastern Massachusetts in a region officials have identified as an area of elevated risk, the newspaper said.
Massachusetts began spraying areas prone to EEE-positive mosquitoes Aug. 5 to Aug. 7, state officials said.
Rhode Island health authorities have urged residents to think about restricting outdoor activities during the evening or early morning hours, as peak mosquito biting times are from dusk to dawn.
“We don’t want people to get the impression that because they don’t go into Massachusetts that they don’t have to use bug spray or keep themselves protected. We still want them to do all those things,” Rhode Island Department of Health spokeswoman Ann Marie Beardsworth said.
EEE is one of the more severe mosquito-transmitted diseases in the United States, with a 33 percent mortality rate, and commonly leads to significant brain damage in survivors, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta says.
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