A West Michigan resident is suspected of having the mosquito-borne illness Eastern Equine Encephalitis, the first of the year in Michigan.
Preliminary test results indicate the patient, a Barry County resident has EEE and confirmatory testing is expected to be completed by the end of the week at the MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories. No additional information will be provided on this individual.
This human case is in addition to 22 confirmed cases in horses from 10 counties. Michiganders are strongly urged to protect themselves from mosquito bites following the suspected EEE case along with nine confirmed cases of West Nile Virus.
EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the United States, with a 33 percent fatality rate in people who become ill and a 90 percent fatality rate in horses that become ill. People can be infected with EEE and other mosquito-borne diseases from the bite of a mosquito carrying the viruses.
People younger than 15 and older than 50 are at the greatest risk of getting seriously sick from the infection. More than 25% of the country’s EEE cases last year were diagnosed in Michigan, MDHHS officials said.
“This suspected EEE case in a Michigan resident shows this is an ongoing threat to the health and safety of Michiganders and calls for continued actions to prevent exposure, including aerial treatment,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “MDHHS continues to encourage local officials in the affected counties to consider postponing, rescheduling or cancelling outdoor activities occurring at or after dusk, particularly those involving children to reduce the potential for people to be bitten by mosquitoes.”
Signs of EEE infection include the sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint aches which can progress to a severe encephalitis, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures and paralysis. Anyone who thinks they might be experiencing these symptoms should contact a medical provider. Permanent brain damage, coma and death can also occur in some cases.
On Monday, Michigan announced aerial treatment for mosquitoes in 10 counties to help limit EEE risk. Read more on the plan here.