EEE risk sends ultimate disc tourney from Granby to Devens

  • A researcher at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health sorts mosquitoes collected from Boston. AP

Staff Writer
Published: 9/5/2019 5:55:44 PM

GRANBY — An ultimate disc tournament originally scheduled to take place in Granby this weekend has been relocated after some participants raised concerns about the area’s Eastern Equine Encephalitis risk level.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health raised the town’s risk level for EEE to critical last week after a Granby horse tested positive for the rare but serious mosquito-borne virus. Granby was one of four towns around the state where infected horses were found.

This designation stoked anxiety among some participants in USA Ultimate’s sectional club championship competition, said USA Ultimate spokesman Andy Lee. About 400 athletes will compete in the tournament, which was originally to be held at the MacDuffie School but will now take place in Devens.

“We moved the competition because there was some concern about the EEE disease,” Lee said, “and where the tournament was scheduled to be held in Granby, there was a higher risk relative to Devens.”

Devens is a census-designated place off Route 2 near Interstate 495, and is within the towns of Ayer, Shirley and Harvard. Shirley and Harvard are currently at a moderate risk level, while Ayer’s risk level is low, according to the state health department.

The Granby public school district is also taking precautions against EEE, and will conduct all outdoor activities between dawn and dusk, according to a post on the district’s Facebook page.

In neighboring South Hadley, which is at a high risk level, the police department’s family movie night, set for Friday night at Plains School, was moved indoors. An outdoor portion of the event involving tours of emergency vehicles will conclude at 7:10 p.m. 

The disease is very rare, with fewer than 100 cases confirmed in Massachusetts since 1939, but it often results in death or permanent mental and physical disabilities among those infected. Some die years after infection from damage inflicted by the virus.

The disease’s most serious complication, encephalitis, causes brain inflammation.

Five human and nine animal cases have occurred in Massachusetts this year, according to MDPH. One woman, Laurie Sylvia of Fairhaven, died of the disease in late August.

In the state’s past outbreaks, about half of the people confirmed to have the disease died​​​​​​, according to MDPH.

No treatments or human vaccines exist for EEE. A vaccine for horses offers the animals some protection against the virus. 

Outbreaks typically occur every 10-20 years in Massachusetts and last 2-3 years, according to the state health department. Before this year’s cases, Massachusetts had its most recent outbreaks in 2004-2006 and 2010-2013, during which 22 people were infected in total.

The health agency recommends taking precautions such as scheduling outdoor events outside of the hours between dusk and dawn; wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and socks when outdoors; using insect repellent with DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus, permethrin, picaridin, or IR3535 (although some of these products should not be used on young children); removing standing water around the house; repairing holes in screens; and ensuring that all doors and windows are tightly attached.

fact sheet with more information on EEE, its risk factors, and precautionary measures is available on the MDPH website. 

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


Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2019 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy