Triple-E cases higher than 2019, schedule adjustments for high school sports possible

Posted at 7:52 PM, Sep 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-09 19:52:38-04

WEST MICHIGAN — Another concern is growing alongside COVID-19 this fall, but it has been in Michigan for years. Experts say Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), or Triple-E, is popping up again as we head into fall and could cause problems across the state.

Cases so far in 2020 are already higher than this time last year. The state health department has identified 18 cases of EEE in horses, but there has been no cases in humans yet.

This gives health officials hope of limited spread to people because in previous years, cases in humans typically popped up when they did in horses.

As of September 9th, state and local officials are not telling people and schools to change plans on when they can be outside. However, they do have several recommendations to avoid EEE spreading to humans and becoming a major issue again this year.

"Wear insect repellent along with long-sleeves when possible." says Sara Simmonds, Director of the Kent County environmental health division. "Have a situational awareness about where you are. Triple-E lives in a very specific environment. It tends to live in a hardwood, swamp area."

While no schools have changed schedules and health experts have not made those recommendations official, experts don't think it is a bad idea to schools to act on their own and push games earlier in the day.

If human cases begin to rise, the MHSAA would likely take steps they did last year in canceling or pushing games time to make sure no one is out around dusk. There is still several weeks left of mosquito season and all precautions should be taken seriously until we get a hard freeze.

If you are worried that you might have been infected with Triple-E, look for flu-like symptoms as well as neurological issues like trouble balancing and speaking.