Eastern Equine Encephalitis claims fifth life in Michigan

Published: Oct. 14, 2019 at 5:52 PM EDT
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(10/14/2019) - The deadly Eastern Equine Encephalitis outbreak in Michigan has claimed a fifth life.

A Cass County resident in Southwest Michigan died of the mosquito-borne illness, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday.

So far this year, 10 people in Michigan have contracted the virus and five have died. EEE also has been confirmed in 40 animals from 16 counties, including Genesee, Lapeer and Tuscola.

Despite cooler temperatures and a frost advisory for parts of Lower Michigan on Monday night, health officials are still urging the public to take precautions.

“The risk of EEE continues if there has not been a sustained period of freezing temperatures,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “We urge residents to continue taking precautions against mosquito bites.”

EEE is one of the most dangerous illnesses transmitted by mosquito bites. It carries a 33 percent fatality rate among humans and those who survive often don't make a full recovery.

The state sprayed an organic aerial insecticide over 557,000 acres in 14 counties earlier this month near areas where EEE infected animals had been located.

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.