LANSING, Mich. — Residents are being reminded by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to protect themselves from mosquito bites after the detection of the first Eastern Equine Encephalitis-positive mosquito pool of the year in Barry County.
MDHHS announced the discovery in a news release Friday.
It comes after a report by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of an EEE-positive horse from Livingston County.
“These discoveries indicate that the EEE virus is here in Michigan and provides warning that residents could also become infected by a mosquito,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health. “Michigan residents are urged to take precautions and protect themselves from mosquito bites as EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the U.S., with a 33% fatality rate among humans who become ill.”
EEE also has a 90% fatality rate in horse that become ill, and infection in both people and animals occurs through the bite of an infected mosquito.
It is not spread from person-to-person.
Signs of EEE include the sudden onset of fever, chills and body and joint aches.
Illnesses can eventually develop into severe encephalitis, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures and paralysis.
Permanent brain damage, coma and death may also happen in some cases.
This is the first year the MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories has been performing testing on mosquitoes collected by local health departments and academic partners.
More than 43,000 mosquitoes have been tested to date.
MDHHS offered the following tips to avoid mosquito bites:
- Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved product, to exposed skin or clothing, and always follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Apply insect repellent to clothing to help prevent bites.
- Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes outside.
- Empty water from mosquito breeding sites around the home, such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes may lay eggs.
- Use nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas.