Schools taking precautions after Eastern Equine Encephalitis advisory for Genesee County

Photo: CDC / James Gathany
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GENESEE COUNTY (WJRT) (9/18/2019) - Schools in Genesee County are taking limited precautions a day after state health officials issued an advisory about the potentially deadly Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus.

A deer in Genesee County was found with the illness and euthanized. Three people in Southwest Michigan already have died of the illness, which also has affected nine horses and five deer.

EEE is spread through mosquitoes and has a 33 percent fatality rate for humans infected with the illness.

RELATED: Animals with Eastern Equine Encephalitis found in Genesee, Lapeer counties

In response to a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services advisory, some schools are spraying their properties with insecticide and limiting events at or after dusk to avoid the most active time for mosquitoes.

Davison Community Schools is asking school-sponsored community activities, including the youth football league, to wrap up activities by 7 p.m. each day.

The middle school and high school athletic departments are adjusting practice schedules to conclude an hour before sunset. Cross country practices are moving to the Davison High School track to avoid mosquito-prone areas.

Flushing Community Schools isn't changing any scheduled events, but administrators are looking into additional insecticide treatments on school grounds.

Grand Blanc Community Schools isn't changing schedules, but plans to have insecticide treatments around the central campus by Grand Blanc High School and on athletic facilities at both middle schools.

Swartz Creek Community Schools is spraying and treating "every square inch of outdoor space" to kill mosquitoes at its facilities, according to Superintendent Ben Mainka.

The district also is advising people participating in or attending school activities outdoors to take precautions that prevent mosquito bites.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services offered the following tips for how people can protect themselves:

• 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.

Symptoms of EEE include the sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint aches that can progress to a severe encephalitis. That can result in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures and paralysis.

Permanent brain damage, comas and death are possible in the most severe cases. Anyone experiencing EEE symptoms should see a physician as soon as possible.