A Barry County resident is suspected of having Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Barry-Eaton District Health Department announced on Tuesday, Sept. 15.
Preliminary test results indicate the patient has EEE, and confirmatory testing is expected to be completed by the end of the week at the MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories.
This human case is in addition to 22 confirmed cases in horses from 10 counties. The state also has nine confirmed cases of West Nile Virus.
“This suspected EEE case in a Michigan resident shows this is an ongoing threat to the health and safety of Michiganders and calls for continued actions to prevent exposure, including aerial treatment,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “MDHHS continues to encourage local officials in the affected counties to consider postponing, rescheduling or cancelling outdoor activities occurring at or after dusk, particularly those involving children to reduce the potential for people to be bitten by mosquitoes.”
Health officials say 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 and a 90 percent fatality rate in horses that become ill. People can be infected with EEE and other mosquito-borne diseases from the bite of a mosquito carrying the viruses.
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. Permanent brain damage, coma and death may also occur in some cases.
In an effort to prevent spread of EEE, MDHHS announced plans Monday, Sept. 14 to conduct aerial mosquito control treatment in certain high-risk areas of Michigan. Treatment is scheduled to begin Wednesday, Sept. 16 in 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.