GENESEE COUNTY (WJRT) - (8/27/19) - The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said a case of California encephalitis virus has been confirmed in a Genesee County resident.
Officials asked everyone in the state to protect themselves from mosquito bites after the confirmation.
According to state health officials, three cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis were suspected in residents from Kalamazoo and Berrien counties.
Six additional cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis have been confirmed this year in horses from Barry, Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties. None of the horses had been vaccinated for the illness and all of them died.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the United States with a 33 percent fatality rate in humans who are infected and 90 percent fatality rate for infected horses.
The health department said people could be infected with Eastern Equine Encephalitis or California encephalitis viruses from the bite of a mosquito carrying the viruses. There is a vaccine available for horses, but not for humans.
"Mosquito-borne diseases can cause long-term health effects in people and even death," said Dr. Mary Grace Stobierski, state public health veterinarian and manager of the Zoonotic and Emerging Infectious Diseases Section. "These cases, along with confirmed cases in horses and deer in the state, stress the importance of taking precautions against mosquito bites."
Symptoms of Eastern Equine Encephalitis include the sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint aches. Symptoms of California encephalitis virus include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and lethargy.
MDHHS offered the following tips to help protect Michiganders:
• Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved product to exposed skin or clothing, and always follow the manufacturer's directions for use.
• Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Apply insect repellent to clothing to help prevent bites.
• 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 may lay eggs.
• Use nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas.