The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced its plans to conduct aerial mosquito control treatment in certain high-risk areas across the state.

MDHHS said Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) has been confirmed in 22 horses in 10 counties as of Sunday, Sept. 13. They said this is twice as many animals’ cases compared to this time last year.

According to MDHHS, there are no human cases to report, although there were 10 in 2019.

MDHHS said the treatment is necessary to prevent the loss of life and protect public health.

RELATED: Officials encourage rescheduling outdoor activities that happen at, or after dusk

Treatment is scheduled to start the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 16. Treatment can only take place under certain weather conditions, so the schedule may change.

Treatment is scheduled for the following counties which all had cases: Barry 1 case, Clare 5 cases, Ionia 1 case, Isabella 1 case, Jackson 1 case, Kent 1 case, Mecosta 1 case, Montcalm 7 cases, Newaygo 2 cases, and Oakland 2 cases. 

The first case was reported on July 31 with the most recent case on Sept. 4.

According to MDHHS, 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 one bite of a mosquito carrying the virus.

MDHHS said persons younger than age 15 and over age 50 are at the greatest risk of severe disease following infection. They said more than 25 percent of the nation’s EEE cases last year were diagnosed in Michigan.

“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 severe encephalitis, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures, and paralysis. Permanent brain damage, coma, and death may also occur in some cases.

Anyone who thinks they may be experiencing these symptoms should contact a medical provider.

The Michigan Department of Agricultural and Rural Development (MDARD) issued an emergency rule temporarily amending the rule on notification and participation for community pesticide applications for aerial spraying treatment across affected counties.

According to the rule, mosquito control treatment will be required for areas that are identified by the aerial treatment plan with exception of federal properties and tribal lands.

“As recent history has shown us, EEE can strike fast and it can be deadly to humans and animals,” said MDARD Director Gary McDowell. “MDARD fully supports the work and commitment of MDHHS to protect public health, which is why we have removed an obstacle that might have prevented them from taking action quickly.”

For additional information about aerial treatment and other health-related information, click here.

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