DETROIT – Health officials confirmed a fifth Michigan resident has died from Eastern equine encephalitis, or EEE.
Officials with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said a Cass County resident died due to the illness.
An additional case of EEE has been confirmed in a horse in Allegan County, MDHHS officials said.
EEE has been confirmed in nine people in Michigan in Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.
Dozens of animals from Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Genesee, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lapeer, Livingston, Montcalm, Newaygo, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties have also had EEE.
"The risk of EEE continues if there has not been a sustained period of freezing temperatures," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health for MDHHS. "We urge residents to continue taking precautions against mosquito bites."
A Calhoun County resident died from EEE earlier this month. Three EEE-related deaths were reported in September, officials said.
What is EEE?
- Eastern equine encephalitis is a disease caused by a virus spread from infected mosquitos that can cause inflammation of the brain.
- Viruses spread by mosquitos are referred to as arboviruses. West Nile is another kind of arbovirus.
- EEE virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Transmission does not occur directly from person to person.
- Only about 4-5% of human EEEV infections result in EEE.
- It takes 4 to 10 days after the bite from an infected mosquito to develop symptoms of EEE.
- Symptoms include: sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint aches, severe encephalitis, headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures, and paralysis.
- People who experience symptoms are urged to see a doctor as soon as possible. Those infected could get permanent brain damage, go into a coma, or die.
- The virus is built up in a particular area through an amplification cycle:
- Infected mosquitos feed on birds, infecting them in the process.
- Uninfected mosquitos then feed on infected birds and become infected themselves.
- EEE is typically found along the East Coast and Gulf Coast, along with the Great Lakes region.
- Once an area has a hard frost, mosquito activity dies down and the virus goes dormant until spring.
- A vaccine has been developed for horses, but no human vaccine is available.
- In the US, an average of 7 human cases of EEE are reported annually.
- The disease kills one-third of patients and leaves 80% of survivors with mild to severe brain damage.
- Read more: Eastern Equine Encephalitis (CDC)