By Associated Press - Thursday, August 20, 2020

HALIFAX, Mass. (AP) - Massachusetts has confirmed its third human infection of a rare but severe mosquito-borne virus this year.

State public health officials said Wednesday the a man in his 90s who lives in Plymouth County has contracted eastern equine encephalitis.

The agency said the risk level for contracting the virus, which causes brain swelling and can lead to death, has been raised to “critical” in Halifax and to “high” in nearby East Bridgewater as a result.

Three other Massachusetts communities are considered at critical risk of the virus: Carver, Middleborough and Wilbraham. A total of nine communities are classified as high risk and 18 are moderate risk, according to the state health department’s virus risk map.

A Plymouth County resident under the age of 21 and woman in her 60s in Hampden County were diagnosed with the virus earlier this month.

The state saw an outbreak of the virus last year and officials have been warning about another bad season this year. There were 12 human cases in Massachusetts in 2019 with six deaths.

Health officials recommend using mosquito repellent outdoors. They also say those living in high and critical risk communities should avoid going outside during the dusk and dawn hours when mosquitoes are most active.

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