MDHHS set to battle EEE with aerial treatment in 10 counties

Published: Sep. 14, 2020 at 4:59 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - (09/14/2020)

From warning to action.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is explaining its plan to control mosquito populations to a deadly illness they may be carrying from spreading.

The disease, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, killed 6 people in the state last year and infected and killed dozens of horses. State health officials say it only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to become ill.

This year 22 horses have died from the disease in 10 counties.

No human cases of EEE have been diagnosed in Michigan so far in 2020 compared to last year’s 10 cases. The state’s health department is hoping to keep it that way.

“The treatment areas have been selected based on the occurrence of EEE cases. Treatment is planned for roughly 290,000 acres in 10 counties including Barry, Clare, Ionia, Isabella, Jackson, Kent, Mecosta, Montcalm, Newaygo and Oakland,” said Sarah Lyon-Callo, State Epidemiologist, MDHHS.

Aerial treatment in those 10 counties will start Wednesday Sep. 16. after dusk and last three to five days.

Mosquito control professionals will apply approved insecticides to be dispersed from a plane.

“That plane is equipped with ultra-low volume sprayers that dispense very fine droplets. These droplets are smaller than a head of a pin and they drift through the air column to kill adult mosquitos on contact,” said Lyon-Callo.

MDHHS says there are no expected health risks during or after spraying. The aerial treatment is subject to change due to weather conditions.

State health officials say mosquitos with EEE have been found in large areas like bogs, swamps, and lake chains.

The aerial treatment will reduce the threat but not eliminate human risk. That’s where you come in.

“Maintaining window indoor screens to help keep mosquitoes outside and emptying water like undated water sites around your home to prevent mosquitoes from breeding nearby. We’ve also recommended the use of nets or indoor fans over outdoor eating areas and we continue to recommend that these actions take place,” Lyon-Callo.

To protect yourself from mosquito bites, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants after dusk and always use insect repellent that uses the active ingredient deet.

If you’re concerned about your horse getting EEE, MDHHS says there is a vaccine that will protect horses. However, there is not a vaccine to prevent people from getting sick.

Click here for more reccomendations from the MDHHS.

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