Health officials: Michigan experiencing worst EEE outbreak in more than a decade

EEE one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in U.S.

Copyright 2019 CNN

Mosquito.

LANSING, Mich. - Michigan health officials say there are four new cases of the mosquito-borne disease Eastern equine encephalitis, with two additional deaths reported in southwest Michigan.

Residents are being advised to protect themselves from mosquito bites. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said there have been seven confirmed human cases of EEE in Michigan since July.

They have been confirmed in the following areas:

  • Barry County
  • Cass County
  • Van Buren County
  • Kalamazoo County
  • Berrien County

Animal EEE cases have been confirmed in St. Joseph, Genesee and Lapeer counties. Health officials are encouraging residents in those areas to postpone or reschedule outdoor activities and events that occur at or after dusk. That request lasts until the first hard frost of the year.

The Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department is asking schools and municipalities to consider canceling outdoor events or moving them inside if they are scheduled after dusk.

"Michigan is currently experiencing its worst Eastern equine encephalitis outbreak in more than a decade," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. "The ongoing cases reported in humans and animals and the severity of this disease illustrate the importance of taking precautions against mosquito bites."

Avoid mosquito bites

Health officials are asking residents to take these steps in avoiding mosquito bites.

  • Apply insect repellents that contain DEET to exposed skin, clothing
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors
  • Maintain window and door screening to keep mosquitoes outside
  • Empty water from mosquito breeding sites around the home, such as buckets, unused kiddie pools and old tires
  • Use nets and fans over outdoor eating areas

About EEE

Health officials said EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the United States. It has a 33 percent fatality rate in people who become ill.

 People can be infected with EEE from the bite of a mosquito carrying the virus. People under the age of 15 and over the age of 50 are at the greatest risk of severe disease after being infected.

Symptoms of EEE

If you experience any of the following symptoms, health officials encourage you to see a doctor as soon as possible.

  • Sudden onset of fever
  • Chills
  • Body and joint aches
  • Severe encephalitis
  • Headache
  • Disorientation
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis

Those infected could get permanent brain damage, go into a coma, or die.

As of Sept. 16, nine cases of EEE have been confirmed in horses. There is a vaccine for horses, but not for people. All the horses that were diagnosed had not been vaccinated.

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