LANSING, Mich. – Michigan health officials are putting out a warning as it investigates three possible human cases of eastern equine encephalitis (EEE).
According to the CDC, the rare but deadly mosquito-borne virus can cause brain infections and swelling. Only a few cases in the U.S. are reported every year but about 33% of people with EEE die and many survivors have ongoing neurological problems.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the three cases under investigation are in Kalamazoo and Berrien counties. The department also says it has confirmed a case of California encephalitis virus in a Genesee County resident.
Symptoms of EEE
Signs of EEE include the sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint aches. Symptoms of California encephalitis virus include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and lethargy.
Also fatal to horses
EEE is also fatal to horses. In Monday's press release, the department said six horses in Barry, Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties contracted the virus and have died.
The horses were not vaccinated. A vaccination exists for horses but not for humans.
Two deer in Barry and Cass counties were also diagnosed with EEE.
Steps to take
Now, ahead of a busy travel weekend, the MDHHS is urging everyone to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Here are the precautions the department is urging everyone to take:
- Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved product to exposed skin or clothing, and always follow the manufacturer's directions for use.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Apply insect repellent to clothing to help prevent bites.
- Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes outside.
- Empty water from mosquito breeding sites around the home, such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes may lay eggs.
- Use nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas.