Oakland County residents urged to protect themselves from mosquito bites amid confirmed EEE cases

Prevention tips offered

Two cases of EEE have been confirmed in horses in Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties. (WDIV)

DETROIT – The Oakland County Health Division and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services are reminding residents to take precautions from mosquito bites as cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis have been confirmed in two horses in Holly and Ortonville.

To date, no human cases have been identified.

MDHHS also recommends out of an abundance of caution that officials consider postponing, rescheduling or cancelling outdoor activities occurring at or after dusk, particularly activities that involve children. This would include events such as late evening sports practices or games.

Read more: Michigan health department encourages officials to reschedule outdoor activities as EEE cases increase

“These animal cases show that EEE is present in Oakland County,” said Leigh-Anne Stafford, health officer for Oakland County. “Residents in all of our communities need to take simple steps to reduce the risk of serious disease from mosquito bites such as limiting exposure at outdoor activities and wearing mosquito repellent.”

Follow these prevention tips:

  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent. All EPA-registered insect repellents are evaluated for safety and effectiveness, and will contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol as the active ingredient. Repellents containing a higher percentage of the active ingredient typically provide longer-lasting protection. Always follow the product label instructions.
  • Be careful using repellent on the hands of children as it may irritate the eyes and mouth.
  • Wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and pants.
  • Limit outdoor activity from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Maintain window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of buildings. Do not prop open doors.
  • Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by removing standing water around your home:
  • Turn over any type of container that can collect water. Once a week, empty out items that hold water such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, pet bowls, flowerpots, and trash containers.
  • Clean clogged roof gutters, particularly if leaves tend to plug up the drains.
  • Treat standing water that cannot be eliminated, such as retention ponds or drainage ditches, with a mosquito larvicide. Mosquito larvicide is easy to use and can be purchased at most home improvement stores.

Mosquito-borne diseases, such as EEE are seasonal and flare in warm summer months and continue into the fall.  The public is urged to protect themselves from mosquito bites until the first hard frost of the year.

“EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the United States,” said Dr. Russell Faust, medical director for the Health Division. “It has a 33 percent fatality rate in people who become ill. Persons younger than age 15 and over age 50 are at greatest risk of severe disease following infection.”

People can be infected with EEE from the bite of a mosquito carrying the virus. Signs of EEE 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. Permanent brain damage, coma and death may also occur in some cases. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should visit their physician’s office.

More information about Mosquito-Borne Disease, such as EEE, can be found on the Health Division’s website at www.oakgov.com/health or by contacting Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533 or noc@oakgov.com.

Nurse on Call is available 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. For up-to-date public health information, follow @publichealthOC on Facebook and Twitter.