FREETOWN, Mass. (WBZ/CNN) - An elderly Massachusetts man is the second person in the state to die from the virus eastern equine encephalitis, also known as EEE.
Six people in the U.S. this year have died from eastern equine encephalitis, or EEE, a virus spread by mosquitoes. (Source: WBZ/CNN)
He was the 10th person to be diagnosed with EEE in the state. At least four other people, three in Michigan and one in Rhode Island, also died from the virus.
"It's on our minds all the time," said Ryan Pierce, a Freetown resident.
The Pierce family isn't taking any chances exposing their two little girls to EEE.
"We're playing right here (in the park) before dinner as opposed to after dinner," Karen Pierce said.
Freetown was one of the first communities in the state to shut down its parks and public spaces from dusk until dawn, which are peak biting hours.
As the sun dropped Friday, it wasn't hard to find swarms of mosquitoes.
"We just made sure to put on the bug spray," Karen Pierce said.
The victim who died was a man in his 70s.
"At 10 human cases in a single year - that is the largest number of cases that we have had in a given year since the 1950s," said Dr. Catherine Brown, with the Department of Health.
State health officials said larger than normal mosquito populations and a change in the virus are to blame.
"When one of those new variances gets introduced into the state, that tends to trigger one of our outbreak cycles," Brown said.
The dropping temperatures are making spraying less effective, but it's still not cold enough to kill off the mosquitoes.
"I feel like waiting for that first frost so it'll kill them, so you'll have some kind of sense of security," Ryan Pierce said.
Copyright 2019 WBZ via CNN. All rights reserved.