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MDHHS identifies mosquitoes carrying EEE in Barry County for first time in 2021

EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the U.S., with a 33% fatality rate in humans who become ill, and a 90% fatality rate in ill horses.

BARRY COUNTY, Mich. — On Friday, the MDHHS announced they discovered the first case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) of 2021 in mosquitoes in Barry County. 

The health department is reminding residents to take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites. 

The discovery in Barry County followed a report by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of an EEE-positive horse from Livingston County.

“These discoveries indicate that the EEE virus is here in Michigan and provides warning that residents could also become infected by a mosquito,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health. 

EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in America, with a 33% fatality rate in humans who become ill, and a 90% fatality rate in ill horses.

The MDHHS does note that EEE cannot be spread from person-to-person.

Signs of EEE include the sudden onset of fever, chills, and body and joint aches. Illness can eventually develop into severe encephalitis, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures and paralysis. 

This is the first year the MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories performed testing on mosquitoes collected by local health departments and academic partners. To date, over 43,000 mosquitoes have been tested. 

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.

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

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