Health Officials Warn Of Potentially Fatal EEE Virus In Michigan

Mosquito bite to the neck
By WWJ Newsradio 950

(WWJ) There's another reason to protect yourself against mosquito bites: Eastern Equine Encephalitis

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is confirming two cases of the virus -- commonly called Triple E, EEE or sleeping sickness -- in horses in Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties.

While there have been no human cases confirmed in Michigan, there's concern as people can be infected with EEE from the bite of a mosquito carrying the virus, which is a rare cause of potentially fatal brain infections.

"It has a 33% fatality rate fatality rate for humans who become ill," said Lynn Sutfin of the MDHHS, "and a 90% fatality rate for horses that become ill." 

Sutfin said while there is a vaccine available for horses, there is no vaccine approved for people.

Meanwhile, WWJ's Dr. Deanna Lites reports West Nile Virus activity in Michigan has also increased in recent weeks. 

Residents are urged to protect themselves and their families from EEE, WNV and other mosquito-borne diseases by taking the following steps:
  • 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 lay eggs.
  • Use nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas.
  • Apply insect repellents that contain DEET, or other EPA approved product to exposed skin or clothing, and always following the manufacturer’s directions for use.
  • Wear light colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Apply insect repellent to clothing to help prevent bites. 

Learn more about Eastern Equine Encephalitis from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) AT THIS LINK