A 12th person has the rare and deadly EEE virus this year in Massachusetts, state health officials announced Thursday, while also announcing that only three people in the state have died.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health had previously said four people died after being infected by the virus, but said Thursday that that information was based on an incorrect report.
"Based on an incorrect report filed by a hospital, DPH has been notified that the fourth death was improperly reported and the official death count remains at three people as of today," the department said in a news release.
There are EEE-confirmation protocols involving the state testing cases sent from hospitals, the department said, but "if the hospital voluntarily reports the death to DPH, it is considered an official report."
The 12th person with EEE that the department reported Thursday is a woman in her 70s who lives in Hampden County. She is in the hospital.
Thirty-five communities are at critical risk of EEE infection with 53 at high risk, according to the department.
The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes; the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it is fatal in roughly 3 in 10 cases.
This outbreak has caused deaths in Rhode Island and Connecticut as well. The last time Massachusetts faced an outbreak was 2010-2012.
To prevent EEE transmission, health officials recommend bug spray and limiting activity at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active. The first freeze will end the threat for the season, as it will cause mosqiutoes to go into hibernation.