The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is reporting four new cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) on the west side of Michigan. Two of those cases were fatal, bringing the total number of cases of EEE to seven in the state. The two recent fatalities occurred in Cass and VanBuren counties, while the first reported case happened in Kalamazoo County. With the new cases, the area of concern is expanding, and the state is urging all Michigan residents to use mosquito repellent with DEET, cover exposed extremities, and empty standing water that can serve as breeding grounds for the insects.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS Chief Medical Executive and Chief Deputy for Health, said Michigan is experiencing the worst Eastern Equine Encephalitis outbreak in more than a decade. The mosquito-borne illness is one of the most dangerous in the United States, with a 33% fatality rate in people who become ill. Individuals become infected with EEE from the bite of a mosquito carrying the viruses. The illness poses the greatest risk to children under 15 years old and older adults over 50. Signs of EEE include sudden onset of fever, chills, and body and joint aches which can progress to severe encephalitis, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures, and paralysis. The mosquito-borne disease will continue to be a threat until the first frost.