KENT COUNTY, Mich. — Amid a growing threat of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), state health officials announced Friday they will be conducting aerial spraying in 14 counties in areas where there is a concentration of EEE to combat the spread of the disease. 

EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases, with a 33% fatality rate among humans who contract the disease and a 90% fatality rate among horses. It is transmitted through mosquito bites.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said due to the large geographic spread of EEE and projected warm weather, they will be partnering with local health departments to conduct aerial spraying in areas of concern. Aerial treatments were scheduled to start Sunday, Sept. 29 at 8 p.m., but they were all postponed due to inclement weather.

The aerial spraying will be in Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lapeer, Montcalm, Newaygo, St. Joseph and Van Buren. All of those counties have cases of EEE in people and/or animals. 

See all the county maps here

There are two zones in northern Kent County that will be sprayed.

Kent County EEE spray zone

Susan Anstett, a homeowner in one of the zones in Kent County said while she's not worried about contracting EEE, she's happy the area is taking precautions.

"We’ve lived out here all our lives and I’ve never really worried too much about mosquitoes," she explained.

However, every year Anstett said she vaccinates her horses, the only known species to have an available vaccine against EEE. 

"I probably worry about them more than myself, so I’m glad I’ve got them taken care of," Anstett said.

Kent County Horse EEE vaccine
Susan Anstett vaccinates her horses against EEE every year.

Aerial treatment will be conducted by low-flying aircraft. Mosquito control professionals will apply pesticides as an ultra-low volume (ULV) spray, dispensing small aerosol droplets that stay suspended in the air and kill adult mosquitoes on contact. 

RELATED: FAQs about EEE and aerial spraying

According to Michigan's Department of Health and Human Services, the spraying isn't expected to cause health risks for humans or animals. However, the department said those who have a known sensitivity to pesticides can stay indoors during the spraying.

Kent County homeowner Matthew Edwards plans to do just that with his wife and two children.

"Sounds like it’s gonna be at night and we’ll be inside then with the cooler weather the windows will be closed too," Edwards said, "As long as I take precautions I wasn’t really nervous about the EEE, and I’m not really nervous about the spray either."

Edward said he continues to put insect repellent on his children while they're outdoors, and is happy the area is getting treated, because he knows children are at high risk.

"The little kids are susceptible to more than the middle aged adult would be," he said.

Michigan's Department of Health and Human Services will bring updates to reschedule the treatment plans on Monday.


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