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Kalamazoo County resident dies from EEE

Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a mosquito-borne illness that is considered incredibly dangerous.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — One of the confirmed cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in southwest Michigan has died, Kalamazoo County health officials said Friday. 

EEE is a mosquito-borne illness. 

To date, there are three confirmed human cases in Michigan, two in Kalamazoo County and one in Berrien County. One of the people from Kalamazoo County died from the disease. 

Health officials say there are two more suspected human cases and two more that are under investigation. 

The Centers for Disease Control says that EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the United States. It has a 33 percent fatality rate in people who are infected and a 90 percent fatality rate in horses that become ill. 

In West Michigan, six horses died from EEE. 

“We strongly encourage residents to take precautions such as using insect repellent with DEET, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors during the peak mosquito-biting hours which are dusk and dawn.” said James Rutherford, Health Officer of Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department. 

RELATED: Michigan teen on ventilator after mosquito bite, mom says

RELATED: 6 horses dead from mosquito-borne disease in West Michigan

The risk for contracting EEE throughout Kalamazoo County is considered widespread and all residents should take actions to prevent mosquito bites until the first hard frost of the year. 

Health officials offer this advice of protecting yourself and your home from mosquitoes: 

  •  Avoid outdoor activities from dusk until dawn.
  • Using EPA registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients:  DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol, and 2-undecanone; follow the product label instructions and reapply as directed.
  • Don’t use repellent on children under 2 months old. Instead dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs and cover crib, stroller and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
  • Wearing shoes and socks, light-colored long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors.
  • Making sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings.
  • Using bed nets when sleeping outdoors or in conditions with no window screens.
  • Eliminating all sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding around your home, including water in bird baths, abandoned swimming pools, wading pools, old tires and any other object holding water once a week.
  • Use nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas

Early symptoms of EEE include the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, body and joint aches. Symptoms usually manifest 4-10 days after exposure. It can develop into severe encephalitis—brain swelling—which can lead to permanent brain damage, coma or death in some cases. 

For more information, visit michigan.gov/eee or cdc.gov/eee.

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