A Massachusetts public health official said people need to stay vigilant against the mosquito-born Eastern Equine Encephalitis. This weekend, the state confirmed the first human case of the virus this year in western Massachusetts.
The state said the woman testing positive for EEE is in her 60s, and she was exposed to the virus in Hampden County.
The state Department of Public Health has raised the risk level to critical in Wilbraham. The neighboring towns of Hampden and Monson are now at high risk. Five nearby communities have also had their risk levels upped to moderate.
State epidemiologist Catherine Brown said people shouldn’t let their guards down.
“We want to make sure that everybody uses an insect repellent when outdoors," Brown said Friday. "We want to make sure that people also know that they can help protect themselves by reducing the amount of exposed skin they have.”
Brown also encouraged people to get rid of any standing water around their homes.
Besides Wilbraham, there are two other communities in the state currently rated at critical risk for EEE. Both are in eastern Massachusetts, in Plymouth County. A male under 18 was found with the virus there a few weeks ago.