BOSTON – State public health officials announced a fourth Massachusetts resident has died from Eastern equine encephalitis has died.
Public health officials also announced the 11th human case of the mosquito-borne illness in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the most ever recorded in a single year.
The 11th case was reported in Charlton. He is a man in his 70s.
With that case the State has elevated the risk of EEE in Auburn, Charlton, Dudley, Leicester, Southbridge, and Spencer to high.
The death, according to state officials, was an Essex County resident.
Last month, a woman from Fairhaven died from EEE.
Last week a man from Freetown died from EEE.
Earlier this week, the third death was reported in Hamden County.
There are 35 communities now at critical risk, including Framingham, Ashland, Sudbury.
An Ashland man and a Sudbury girl, 5, tested positive for EEE and are among the 10 cases in the Commonwealth.
The first symptoms of EEE are fever (often 103º to 106ºF), stiff neck, headache, and lack of energy. These symptoms show up three to 10 days after a bite from an infected mosquito. Inflammation and swelling of the brain, called encephalitis, is the most dangerous and frequent serious complication. The disease gets worse quickly and some patients may go into a coma within a week.
There is no treatment for EEE. In Massachusetts, about half of the people identified with EEE died from the infection. People who survive this disease will often be permanently disabled. Few people recover completely.
The state has been providing aerial spraying and the East Middlesex Mosquito Control Project has been conducting ground spraying, but Framingham Health Director Sam Wong said individuals need to take their own precautions.