(WXYZ) — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will conduct aerial treatment to prevent spread of Eastern Equine Encephalitis.
EEE has been confirmed in 22 horses in 10 counties, MDHHS says. This is twice as many animal cases as the same time last year. No human cases have been identified.
MDHHS says EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the United States.
“We are taking this step in an effort to protect the health and safety of Michiganders in areas of the state where we know mosquitoes are carrying this potentially deadly disease,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “As people are spending more time outdoors because of COVID-19, they also need to be protecting themselves from mosquito bites.”
Signs of EEE infection 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. Anyone who thinks they may be experiencing these symptoms should contact a medical provider.
Treatment is scheduled to occur starting the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 16. However, treatment can only take place under certain weather conditions, so the schedule may need to change.
Treatment areas are selected based on occurrence of cases. Treatment is scheduled for the 10 impacted counties: Barry, Clare, Ionia, Isabella, Jackson, Kent, Mecosta, Montcalm, Newaygo and Oakland. Additional areas may be selected for treatment if new human or animal cases occur outside of the currently identified zones.
MDHHS says health risks are not expected during or after spraying. No special precautions are recommended; however, residents and individuals who have known sensitivities to pyrethrins can reduce potential for exposure by staying indoors during treatment.
Aerial treatment will be conducted in the nighttime hours as this is when mosquitoes are more active. However, MDHHS says owners should cover small ornamental fishponds during the night of spraying. While it is not necessary to bring animals indoors during treatment, concerned pet owners can choose to bring animals inside during this time.
To reduce the potential for people to be bitten by mosquitoes, MDHHS is continuing to encourage local officials in the affected counties to consider postponing, rescheduling or cancelling outdoor activities occurring at or after dusk, particularly activities involving children.
This would include events such as late evening sports practices or games or outdoor music practices. The recommendation is being made out of an abundance of caution to protect the public health and applies until the first hard frost of the year.