3 cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis suspected in Berrien, Kalamazoo counties

Michigan health officials are investigating suspected cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in residents from Berrien and Kalamazoo counties.

There are three suspected cases of the mosquito born disease, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

As of Monday, the disease has been confirmed in horses in Barry, Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties. The horses were not vaccinated against the disease and all have died.

Two deer in Barry and Cass counties have been diagnosed with the disease as well.

“Mosquito-borne diseases can cause long-term health effects in people and even death,” said Dr. Mary Grace Stobierski, MDHHS 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.”

Residents can stay healthy by following steps to avoid mosquito bites:

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.

Signs of EEE include the sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint aches. Symptoms of California encephalitis virus include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and lethargy.

Both diseases can develop into severe encephalitis, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures and paralysis. Permanent brain damage, coma and death may also occur in some cases.

For more information about mosquito-borne diseases, visit Michigan.gov/emergingdiseases.

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