Town Administrator Kristine Trierweiler, the Medfield Board of Health and Medfield Public Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Marsden have reported that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has elevated the town's risk for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) from "moderate" to “critical” August 29 in light of the death of a horse that tested positive for the virus.
All town and Medfield Public Schools outdoor activities, including sports practices, will now end at 7 p.m., and night games will be rescheduled to the daytime or weekends.
Norfolk County Mosquito Control has been notified of the new designation and will conduct spraying in Medfield on Friday, August 30, after dusk.
The town is following DPH guidelines and advising all residents to limit outdoor exposure after sundown. Residents should strongly consider canceling or rescheduling any planned outdoor activities until further notice.
"This critical EEE designation is concerning, especially since it has been linked to the death of a horse in town," Town Administrator Trierweiler said. "We will be meeting to discuss what further steps need to be taken and recommend that all residents use caution while outside during dusk and dawn hours when mosquitoes are most likely to bite."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the EEE virus is a rare cause of brain infections, or encephalitis. There are very few human EEE cases each year but the virus can be fatal or leave victims with serious, lifelong health complications.
"Due to the seriousness of this issue, we will be working with the athletic department and our coaches to make sure that all outdoor practices end at 7 p.m. for the time being and will be working diligently to reschedule any night games coming up," Superintendent Marsden said. "The safety of our students is our number one priority and we will be taking all precautions to prevent our students from being outdoors when mosquitoes are at their worst."
"Medfield is now one of many communities throughout the region that have been given the critical designation by DPH," said Medfield Health Agent Nancy Bennotti. "We will continue to update residents as needed and ask that they adhere to the 7 p.m. curfew for outdoor activities. If anyone believes they are exhibiting signs of having contracted the EEE virus, please seek medical help immediately."