LANSING (WJRT) (10/8/2019) - State health officials have completed an aerial spraying program to kill mosquitoes and stop the spread of Eastern Equine Encephalitis.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services paid for treatments covering 557,000 acres in 14 counties, including part of Lapeer County.
Ten human cases of EEE have been reported in Michigan this summer and fall, leading to four deaths. Those cases all occurred in Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.
Another 39 animals in 16 counties, including Genesee, Lapeer and Tuscola, were found with confirmed cases of EEE. A horse in Tuscola County is one of the most recent confirmed illnesses.
“In one year, we have had more human EEE cases confirmed than in the past decade,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan's chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “We chose to conduct aerial treatment to protect the health and safety of Michiganders."
No further aerial treatments are planned in Michigan because the organic pesticide Merus 3.0, which was used in the spraying, works best when temperatures are above 50 degrees.
EEE is spread by mosquito bites. It is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne illnesses in the U.S. with a 33 percent fatality rate among humans.
She said the danger of EEE has not completely subsided in Michigan. Mosquitoes were caught in traps set in Southwest Michigan last week.
"We also continue to urge communities and residents to take precautions against mosquito bites as the risk of EEE remains until the first hard frost,” Khaldun said.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is still recommending everyone take the following precautions to avoid a mosquito-borne illness.
• Limit outdoor activities or take precautions to avoid biting when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.
• Apply an insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 according to label instructions. Only use products that are registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
• When outdoors wear socks, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts.
• Make sure windows and doors have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings.
• Eliminate all sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding, including water found in birdbaths, wading pools, and old tires.