(WXYZ) — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is strongly advising residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites as four additional cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis have been confirmed in Southwest Michigan.
Two of the cases were fatal.
Overall, the disease remains a threat that has resulted in seven confirmed human cases in areas including Barry, Cass and Van Buren counties, along with Kalamazoo and Barrien counties. The cases in Cass and Van Buren counties were fatal, along with an earlier case in Kalamazoo County.
MDDHS is encouraging local officials in the affected counties to consider postponing, rescheduling or canceling outdoor activities after dusk, particularly those that involve children. Activities include events like late evening sports practices or games or outdoor music practices.
“Michigan is currently experiencing its worst Eastern Equine Encephalitis outbreak in more than a decade,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “The ongoing cases reported in humans and animals and the severity of this disease illustrate the importance of taking precautions against mosquito bites.”
All Michigan residents can stay healthy by following these steps to avoid mosquito bites:
- Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-registered 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.
Signs of EEE include the sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint aches which can progress to a severe encephalitis, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures and paralysis.