A young girl and an elderly man, who lived in nearby towns in Massachusetts, died from the rare, mosquito-borne Eastern equine encephalitis virus. A third woman from the same area is in serious condition in the hospital with the disease.

The disease is rare and only 200 confirmed cases of EEE have been documented since 1964. "It's critical that residents protect themselves from mosquito bites," said Dr. Al DeMaria. "Mosquitoes will be biting until the first frost."

Dr. DeMaria is the Massachusetts state director of communicable disease control. He gave no other information and the identities of the victims were not released. "Obviously this is a horrendous situation for these families," he said.