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Kalamazoo County conducting mosquito surveillance to test for EEE, Zika virus

Posted at 6:30 PM, Sep 01, 2021

KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. — A West Michigan county is staying on top of prevention when it comes to diseases spread by mosquitoes.

You may see mosquito traps at seven different locations in Kalamazoo County.

The Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department is working to catch and test different species of mosquitoes for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and Zika virus.

"This is the time of year where we're going to start seeing cases happen," said the Kalamazoo County Environmental Health Supervisor Lucus Pols.

Mosquito surveillance started in May for the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department.

Pols said they're working to be proactive.

"It goes into prevention. We know these mosquitoes are here. What can you do to prevent getting bit and letting these mosquitoes in your home and around your home?" said Pols.

EEE was last seen in Kalamazoo County back in 2019 where three humans and nine animals tested positive. Zika virus has never been found.

RELATED: Health officials detect EEE in mosquitoes in Barry County

So far this year, Kalamazoo County said they haven't seen any cases of either but are still testing for them by using the different traps.

"Really looking at EEE, that has been our focus over the last couple of years. We know that these mosquitoes are here. They are native to our state and native to our region," said Pols.

The department tests them by using a resting box, similar to a disposable plant pot.

It's painted black on the inside to attract either the black-tailed mosquito or the cattail mosquito, both of which carry EEE.

"We capture these mosquitoes using an aspirator basically like a little vacuum. We suck those mosquitoes up out of the box, and then we freeze them. We identify them. We are looking for two different types of EEE," said Pols.

There are a total of seven different locations with over 25 traps to attract the mosquitoes. They're placed all over the county.

RELATED: Mosquito takeover in Michigan caused by heavy rainfall

While both diseases can be dangerous, there are easy ways to protect yourself.

"Mosquito spray with DEET or another EPA-certified spray that you wear whenever you go outside, especially in these summer months. You can also wear long sleeves, pants, things like that. Light-colored clothing is really good. Dark colors — the mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors," said Pols.

Protecting Yourself Against Diseases from Mosquitoes Social Factoid.png

The Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department said it'll keep the mosquito traps out until at least the end of September. They could potentially stay out until October if the weather stays nice.

The department is also conducting tick surveillance to test them for Lyme disease.

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