INDIANAPOLIS (WANE / WOOD): Indiana and Michigan residents are facing another disease outbreak that may force them to move into their home.
The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) is urging residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites after reports of a probable human case of eastern equine encephalitis (EEA).
In Michigan, a woman told WOOD that a test conducted by the Mayo Clinic already found her husband had EEE. If confirmed, it will be Michigan’s first human case EEE in 2020.
The EEE virus, which is more common in horses, can cause serious illness and has a mortality rate of 33% or higher in humans.
“Eastern equine encephalitis virus disease is uncommon in humans, but it can cause permanent complications and even death,” the Indiana state health commissioner said in a press release.
Symptoms of the EEA virus include chills, fever, body aches, and joint pain. Some people develop a more severe form of the disease that affects the nervous system and causes encephalitis or inflammation of the brain.
In Michigan, Tina Wescott said her husband, Jeff Wescott, suffered from severe headaches, which later turned into speech difficulties.
“He went from being a healthy adult for a week and in ten days … he couldn̵7;t even walk without help. He was so weak. He really ended up with him completely. He’s lucky to be alive,” said Tina. Wescott.
He wants the community to know how far the virus can go.
“It is very bad. I didn’t think I would make it. I really didn’t think I would do it that first night. I saw things I don’t want to see again ever again. It was horrible … just struggling to breathe, ”Wescott said.
The family is excited about the progress, but knows there are many challenges ahead.
The rare mosquito-borne disease has already done so infected and killed 22 horses in Michigan this year. EEE is almost always fatal to horses, but can be vaccinated. There is no vaccine for humans.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is performing night air sprays kill mosquitoes in the ten counties where animal cases have been confirmed,
People under the age of 15 and older than 50 are at higher risk for serious illness if they are infected with the EEA virus, according to Indiana health officials. People who believe they may have the EEA virus should visit a healthcare provider.
Health officials are reminding people to use insect repellent with DEET, to wear long pants and sleeves outdoors, and to stay indoors at rush hour mosquitoes whenever possible. You should also clean any stagnant water on your property that could generate mosquitoes and make sure the window sills are in good condition to keep them out of the house.
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