EEE virus detected in mosquitos from two towns

Townsend, Pepperell report cases within three days of each other


TOWNSEND — Mosquitos containing the Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus have been found in two neighboring towns in the Nashoba Valley this week, prompting the state to raise the risk of the virus in both towns.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced on Monday that the EEE virus had been detected in mosquitoes collected in Townsend. This came three days after the department also reported mosquitoes with the EEE virus were collected in Pepperell. Because of those two detections, the department raised the EEE risk level for both towns to “low.”

Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill in July meant to update the state’s policies on mosquito control. The bill, based on another bill the governor filed in April, created a task force meant to develop a more modern approach to monitoring the bugs. It also affords the State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board new methods of fighting EEE and the West Nile Virus when the Department of Public Health determines an elevated risk of the viruses.

The department began routine mosquito testing on June 15 and will continue to check for mosquitoes carrying the virus through October. According to the department’s EEE risk map, towns with critical risk levels of EEE include Carver and Middleboro. Towns neighboring Townsend and Pepperell, including Dunstable and Groton, have low risk levels.

12 human cases of EEE and six deaths from the virus were reported in Massachusetts in 2019.