State confirms 1st human EEE case; hopes fall weather can help kill mosquitoes

Michigan News

A courtesy photo of Jeff Wescott of Barry County, who contracted Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

LANSING, Mich. (AP/WOOD) — Michigan health officials have confirmed this year’s first human case of eastern equine encephalitis in the state.

Family confirms the patient is Jeff Wescott of Hastings, now being treated at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids.

EEE has also infected 29 horses in 12 Michigan counties, including one in Calhoun County. Horses can be vaccinated for the disease, but there is no equivalent for humans.

Authorities said reducing exposure to mosquitoes is the best way of preventing human infection, including insect repellent, wearing long sleeves or pants outdoors and using screens on doors and windows to keep mosquitoes out.

Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services also has used aerial spray treatment across more than 226,000 acres to help prevent spread of the disease, including 69,000 acres treated on Thursday.

The department said nighttime temperatures below 50 degrees this weekend should keep mosquitoes that carry the disease inactive. But they said residents should continue taking precautions until there is a hard freeze.

The cooler temperatures at night this weekend are causing the state to pause aerial treatments until Monday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 38 human cases and 19 deaths from the virus last year and authorities in several Northeastern states warned residents this summer that the disease had been detected in mosquitoes.

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