Deadly mosquito virus spreads to Michiana

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services released a report warning about the reemergence of the Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus.

This mosquito borne illness can be transmitted by a single bite. Thus far there have been 3 confirmed cases of human EEE in Kalamazoo and Berrien Counties along with 6 horse fatalities in Barry, Kalamazoo and Saint Joseph counties.

The virus is 33% fatal in humans and 90% in horses. Jill Knowles, a professional horse trainer, says that most times if a horse contracts EEE they are subsequently euthanized as it is easier that the pain and the eventually death to come.

Knowles also a seasoned equestrian was surprised to hear that there were horses dying. It made her sad to know that there are owners out there who would not to the simple thing and vaccinate their horses when it is a common illness veterinarians and horse enthusiasts alike typically know about.

The virus’ effects usually are not seen until 10 to 14 days after the initial bite. Some of the symptoms to look out for include headache, vomiting, fever, and potentially seizures. The virus is just that—a virus—so there is not a set cure. However, if you feel any of these symptoms reach out to your health care provider immediately. They will be able to help make you comfortable and try to ease you through till the virus’ end.

However, the biggest message the Berrien County Health Department wants people to know is that education is the best form of prevention. 

They recommend wearing insect repellent that includes the active ingredient DEET, wearing long sleeves and pants, as well as trying to rid places that mosquitoes can lay eggs in and around your home.

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