Officials Say EEE Remains A Threat Until A Hard Frost. What Is That Exactly?

in Featured, In The News
October 17th, 2019

So far this year, 12 people have contracted Eastern equine encephalitis virus, or EEE, in Massachusetts, and as of Friday, four of those people have died from the disease.

The latest death was Scott Mosman, a 58-year-old man from Taunton, whose family says he first got sick on Sept. 6.

While Mosman’s infection happened more than a month ago — and the latest confirmed human patient with EEE fell ill on Sept. 15 — officials said the risk for EEE and other mosquito-borne illnesses stays elevated until a “hard frost.”

Dr. Catherine Brown, state epidemiologist for the Department of Public Health, told WBUR in an interview last month that most human cases usually happen before Sept. 15.

“We’re past that now, but that’s just the vast majority of cases, not all of them,” she said. “Some mosquitoes — and some are still infected — will persist until a hard frost.”

This notion that the risk for mosquito-borne illnesses like EEE and West Nile virus remains until a “hard frost” is an oft-quoted — if somewhat vague — piece of guidance from public health officials and researchers.

“We hear the term a lot, and I don’t know if there’s a hard definition for ‘hard frost,’ ” said Tonya Colpitts, a microbiologist at Boston University School of Medicine.

Click to read full article on WBUR CommonHealth