KALAMAZOO (WWJ) - A Michigan resident who was diagnosed with eastern equine encephalitis, one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the U.S., has died.
In announcing the death in Kalamazoo County on Friday, the Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services urged residents to protect themselves against mosquito bites.
Eastern equine encephalitis -- also known as Triple E or EEE -- is a rare but serious mosquito-borne virus that has a 33-percent fatality rate in humans and a 90-percent fatality rate in horses. People can become infected with the EEE virus from the bite of a mosquito carrying the virus.
“We strongly encourage residents to take precautions such as using insect repellent with DEET, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors during the peak mosquito-biting hours which are dusk and dawn.” said James Rutherford, Health Officer of Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department.
To date there are three confirmed human cases in Michigan: two in Kalamazoo County and one in Berrien County, including the fatality. There are two additional suspected human cases in Michigan: one in Kalamazoo County and one in Berrien County, and two more cases in Kalamazoo County that are still under investigation.
Health officials have not released a name, age or any other details about the person who died.
Meanwhile, the mother of Savanah Dehart, a 14-year-old Kalamazoo-area girl who was hospitalized with EEE, posted on Facebook Friday night that her daughter "is still fighting."
"I just want everyone to know that this case IS NOT Savanah," the mom wrote, adding: "My family's thoughts and prayers are wholeheartedly with the family that this happened to. Please do us a favor and keep them in your thoughts and prayers as well."
The risk for contracting EEE throughout Kalamazoo County is considered widespread and all residents should take actions to prevent mosquito bites until the first hard frost of the year, the health department said.
The best way to prevent EEE or any other mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
Learn more about eastern equine encephalitis from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) AT THIS LINK.