MANCHESTER — A Manchester resident has contracted the Eastern equine encephalitis virus, commonly known as EEE, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health confirms.

The DPH has raised the EEE risk level in Manchester to "moderate" with a possibility that it may rise to "high."

It is unknown at this time where the person contracted EEE as that person works in Ipswich, Boxford, Topsfield, Essex, Gloucester and Manchester, according to a statement from Manchester health officials. Further details about the person were not released Wednesday afternoon.

EEE-infected mosquitoes were identified in Boxford, Andover, West Newbury and Methuen earlier this summer, as well as a horse that contracted EEE in Methuen.

EEE is spread through mosquito bites. The first symptoms appear three to 10 days after a bite and include high fever (often 103 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit), stiff neck, headache, and lack of energy. One of the most serious complications from the virus is encephalitis, or inflammation and swelling of the brain. Some patients reportedly slip into a coma within a week.

This would be the ninth human case of EEE this year in Massachusetts, according to state data. Laurie Sylvia, a 59-year-old Bristol County resident, died earlier this summer after contracting the virus. So far, that has been the only fatality in the state.

Although no local sports games, practices or other outdoor events are canceled as of now, Manchester residents are advised to take precaution while outdoors. The Board of Health advises residents to wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and socks and apply bug repellant, especially if outside after 6 p.m. (those with DEET, permethrin, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus are recommended).

The risk of contracting the virus will plummet significantly after the first hard frost of the season, health officials say. For more tips on how to avoid mosquitoes, visit www.mass.gov/dph/mosquito.

There are no plans to spray insecticide around town at this time, the statement said. The Board of Health and Public Health Nurse Colleen Brown will continue to monitor the situation closely and will provide updates as needed.

Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or mcronin@gloucestertimes.com

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