Granby, South Hadley, Belchertown EEE risk lowered to moderate

  • A mosquito sample. AP PHOTO/LISA POOLE

Staff Writer
Published: 9/18/2019 4:09:15 PM

GRANBY — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has lowered the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) risk in Granby, South Hadley, and Belchertown to moderate after confirming that it incorrectly reported a Granby horse tested positive for the illness.

Granby EEE level was previously classified as critical for the rare but serious mosquito-borne illness, while South Hadley and Belchertown were designated as high risk. Neighboring Hampden County communities Ludlow and Chicopee were also lowered from high to moderate risk in light of the corrected error. 

The towns initially received higher ratings in August after the state reported that a horse from Granby had been infected with EEE. But according to the horse’s owner, a Granby resident, the horse had been stabled in Salem, Connecticut since March 2018. The error was reported by the Gazette last week and confirmed by the state the next day. 

When asked how the error occurred and what the state would do to prevent it in the future, a spokeswoman said in an email statement, “We rely on information people give us.”

Although very uncommon, EEE often leads to death or permanent physical and mental disabilities. Eight humans and 8 animals have tested positive in Massachusetts this year, and a Fairhaven woman died of the illness in late August. 

A moderate rating means that EEE has occurred in the area within the last three years, mosquitos with EEE are currently in the area or both. 

At this risk level, MDPH recommends wearing mosquito repellent when outdoors — particularly between dusk and dawn, which are peak mosquito hours — and avoiding outdoor areas with “obvious mosquito activity.”

Higher risk levels call for measures such as avoiding outdoor activities during peak mosquito hours and canceling or rescheduling outdoor events within this time range. 

All Hampshire County towns west of the Connecticut River maintain a low-risk rating, while the remaining towns in the eastern portion of the county are all listed as at moderate risk.

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.


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