LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will begin spraying for mosquitoes to fight Eastern equine encephalitis in southwest Michigan Monday night.
Treatment was scheduled to begin Sunday night in several counties but was postponed due to weather.
On Monday, MDHHS released a map including zones that will be sprayed Monday night, which includes portions of Berrien, Cass, Van Buren and St. Joseph counties.
Spraying in several other West Michigan counties has been delayed past Monday, according to MDHHS. Officials decided not to spray in Kalamazoo or Portage over the weekend because so many residents opted out, which would make the treatment ineffective.
On Monday, Kalamazoo County’s health department said the entire county will not be sprayed because of the opt-outs.
Residents can opt out of the spray by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org at least 48 hours ahead of the scheduled time.
The state said crews will be using Merus 3.0, an organic pesticide naturally found in some chrysanthemum flowers. The chemical is toxic to mosquitoes, ant, flies and other pests.
It does not pose general health risks to humans, pets or animals, and shouldn’t impact drinking water, the state said.
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. So far, nine human cases have been confirmed in Michigan, with three of them becoming fatal. Twenty-seven animal cases have also been confirmed.
Signs of EEE infection include the sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint aches, which can progress to severe encephalitis, further resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures, and paralysis. Permanent brain damage, coma, and death may also occur in some cases.
People can reduce their risks by using bug spray with DEET, avoiding being outside at dusk, wearing long sleeve clothing, and getting rid of standing water on their property