EEE threat forces several communities to cancel outdoor activities at night

EEE threat forces several communities to cancel outdoor activities at night

ONSET, Mass. — Towns in Plymouth and Bristol counties are taking the threat of Eastern equine encephalitis very seriously.

We've learned a Rochester man has been diagnosed with the state's first human case of EEE in six years.

In a Facebook post, the man's daughter says her dad has been in a coma for a week and doctors are still searching for answers.

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She says she doesn't know where or when he was bitten but is thanking people for their thoughts and prayers.

Many communities have canceled all outdoor activities at night for the rest of the summer.

Onset is among communities that are at a 'critical risk' for the virus.

The town, which holds a concert series every week, is now forced to either cancel the show or move everything inside.

"Public safety has to be our top priority," said Kat Jones, executive director of Onset Bay Association.

Safety is on everyone's minds in towns like Onset in Wareham, one of several hot spots for EEE right now.

"It'll change the logistics a little bit but we always manage to find a way to carry on," Jones said.

She said health officials are urging towns to cancel all outdoor events at night, especially after a man was hospitalized from EEE this weekend.

"I hope it doesn't last for too much longer because it's summer. People want to be outside," said Lina Calise of Onset.

Onset usually draws about 1,000 people every Wednesday night for its concerts all summer at the outdoor bandstand by the water.

"From all over the region really we have people that come," Jones said. "I just heard from someone – they drive over an hour to get to our concert series."

But now, Jones said she plans to move the last three shows of the summer indoors to the Onset VFW to keep people safe from EEE.

"We may not see as big a crowd you know which is unfortunate but it is what it is," Jones said. "I think people are concerned about it, and should be especially with their children."

Several towns have even canceled their summer concerts or all outdoor activities as a precaution.

The Wareham Boys and Girls Club moved up their show Monday night to avoid dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

"So we had to push it up like an hour because the parents were kind of concerned about being out in the park in this area," Calise said.

Onset is one of several towns making these changes for the rest of the summer.

Carver and Middleborough are also canceling most of their outdoor events at night.

Friday night, Boston 25 News spoke with a family in Framingham whose daughter got bit by a mosquito when she was just 6 years old.

She got EEE and has lived with a severe brain injury ever since. She is now 42 and needs assistance every day.

"The effects are huge. I mean for her, the effects are huge," said mother Jean Becker. "It's a brain injury. She can't tie her shoes, she can't brush her teeth, she can't brush her hair. I have to make sure the door in her bedroom is locked on the outside because you don't want her walking out and falling down the stairs."

It's just one example of how serious EEE can be. State health officials tell Boston 25 News it can also be deadly.