Fourth death due to Eastern Equine Encephalitis announced


FILE – In this Aug. 26, 2019, file photo, Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District biologist Nadja Reissen examines a mosquito in Salt Lake City. State and federal health officials are reporting a higher than usual number of deaths and illnesses from a rare, mosquito-borne virus this year. Eastern equine encephalitis has been diagnosed in a score of people in six states and several people have died so far this year. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

LANSING, Mich. (WJMN) – A fourth death due to Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) has been confirmed in a Calhoun County resident, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced. Due to the ongoing risk, MDHHS is recommending continued public health interventions to combat this serious disease.

Aerial treatment continues to be recommended and provided to address the areas of the state with highest risk. However, due to inclement weather, treatment scheduled for tonight has been postponed.

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. People can be infected with EEE from the bite of a mosquito carrying the viruses. Persons younger than age 15 and over age 50 are at greatest risk of severe disease following infection.

As of Oct. 2, EEE has been confirmed in nine people, with four fatalities. Cases are in Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties. In addition, cases have occurred in 33 animals from 15 counties: Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Genesee, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lapeer, Livingston, Montcalm, Newaygo, St. Joseph and Van Buren. The mosquitos that spread EEE are still active and were caught in traps set Oct. 1 in southwest Michigan. 

To help combat this deadly disease, the state is providing aerial treatment in areas of risk. On Oct. 1, about 86,016 acres were treated. This brings the total treated acreage to 186,146. Areas completed to date as identified on the Area Treatment Zones Map include Area 3-1 in Berrien County, Areas 5-1 and 5-2 in Cass County, Areas 12-1, 12-2 and 12-3 in St. Joseph County and 13-1 in Van Buren County. Area 2-1 in Barry County has been partially completed. Areas not yet completed will be included in future schedules.

Schedules are weather dependent and may change. Aerial treatment will continue, depending on weather (temperature, cloud cover, wind and rain) until all areas of risk are treated or there is a hard frost, sufficient to kill mosquitos. 

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