DETROIT – A Michigan adult is suspected of having the rare and dangerous mosquito-borne virus of eastern equine encephalitis, health officials announced Tuesday.
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The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is now urging people in 10 Michigan counties (Barry, Clare, Ionia, Isabella, Jackson, Kent, Mecosta, Montcalm, Newaygo and Oakland) to cancel or postpone events to the outdoors that take place in the evening or later prevent more people from contracting the virus, which is spread through the bite of infected mosquitoes. The adult suspected of having the virus is from Barry County.
Also known as Triple E, the virus is one of the deadliest mosquito-borne diseases in the United States, with a 33% mortality rate in people who get sick. It leaves many survivors with physical and mental disabilities. It kills 90% of horses sick with the virus. So far this year, 22 horses from the ten counties urged to cancel outdoor events have confirmed cases of the virus.
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“The MDHHS continues to encourage local officials in affected counties to consider postponing, rescheduling, or canceling outdoor activities that take place in the evening or after the evening, particularly those involving children, to reduce the potential for bite-biting people, ”Drs. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical officer and deputy chief health officer at MDHHS, in a statement.
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If the suspicious human case is confirmed by lab tests later this week, he would be the first person with EEE this year in Michigan.
Last year, EEE infected 38 people in the United States, more than in any previous year, as U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention monitored. In a typical year, there are seven cases nationwide.
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Children under 15, adults over 50 at higher risk
In Michigan alone, in 2019, six people died and four others were hospitalized. Three of the four people who survived EEA infections in the state “have serious neurological problems and continue to receive supportive care, either in rehab or at home with home care,” said Lynn Sutfin, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health. and Michigan Human Services. , in a previous interview with Free Press.
Signs of EEE infection include the sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint pain that can progress to severe encephalitis, causing headaches, disorientation, tremors, seizures, and paralysis.
Children under the age of 15 and people over the age of 50 have the highest risk of developing serious diseases caused by the EEA virus. There is no vaccine against EEA, no treatment or cure. Doctors can only offer supportive therapy to help patients breathe, get fluids and nutrition, and prevent other infections.
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Anyone who believes they may be experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention. In some cases, permanent brain damage, coma, and death can also occur.
The MDHHS announced earlier this week that it would begin spraying pesticides in 10 counties where EEA cases have been identified in horses to control mosquitoes and reduce the risk of infection.
“This alleged EEE case of a Michigan resident demonstrates that it is an ongoing threat to Michiganders’ health and safety and calls for continued action to prevent exposure, including aerial treatment, ”Khaldun said.
Spraying is scheduled to begin Wednesday in the 10 affected counties, and state health officials say more areas of the state can be treated if additional human or animal cases are identified.
Clarke will proceed with the aerial treatment of St. Charles, Illinois, by specialized aircraft, beginning early in the evening and continuing until the next morning. The treatment will be carried out using Merus 3.0, the same product that was used in 2019 in Michigan to treat 557,000 acres. Merus 3.0 is registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Department of Agricultural and Rural Development and is labeled for public health use in residential areas.
To avoid EEA, health officials suggest following these steps:
- Use insect repellents that contain DEET or another product approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on exposed skin or clothing, following the manufacturer’s instructions for use.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants outdoors. Apply insect repellent to clothing to help prevent bites.
- Keep the screen of windows and doors to help keep mosquitoes out.
- Empty water from mosquito breeding sites throughout the house, such as buckets, unused children’s pools, old tires, or similar places where mosquitoes can lay eggs.
- Use nets and / or fans in outdoor dining areas.
Follow journalist Kristen Jordan Shamus on Twitter: @KristenShamus
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This article originally appeared in the Detroit Free Press: It suspects Rare mosquito-borne virus in Michigan; 10 counties urged to cancel outdoor events after sunset
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