LANSING (Great Lakes News) – Michiganders are now far less likely to contract Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), as the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced the completion of their preventive aerial spraying treatment. The spraying, which covered more than 557,000 acres through 14 counties, finished covering potentially dangerous areas after 9 days intermittent application.
The MDHHS made the announcement after the confirmation of another human case and five additional horse cases of EEE acquired before the spraying program began. Treatment was conducted in portions of Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Jackson, Kent, Lapeer, Livingston, Montcalm, Newaygo, St. Joseph, Van Buren and Washtenaw counties. In addition, Fort Custer Training Center, which is in both Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties, was treated.
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“In one year, we have had more human EEE cases confirmed than in the past decade,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health for MDHHS. “We chose to conduct aerial treatment to protect the health and safety of Michiganders. We also continue to urge communities and residents to take precautions against mosquito bites as the risk of EEE remains until the first hard frost.”
The MDHHS opted for aerial treatment because of the sheer number of cases in both people and animals this year, with EEE being confirmed in 10 people. No additional treatment is planned as temperatures continue to drop, making it difficult to apply insecticide. Mosquito activity is very temperature sensitive, with mosquitos not flying in lower temperature and rendering insecticide less effective. To be most effective, aerial treatment must be conducted when evening and overnight temperatures are at 50 degrees and above.
EEE is an incredibly dangerous mosquito-borne disease that holds a 33 percent fatality rate in people who become ill, leaving those who survive with irreparable physical and mental disabilities. People are infected with EEE from the bite of a mosquito carrying the virus.
Despite the temperature drops, the mosquitoes that spread EEE are still active. The MDHHS recommends that Michiganders protect themselves from potential bites.
“Avoid being outdoors from dusk to dawn when mosquitos that carry the EEE virus are most active,” MDHHS wrote in a press release. “Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-registered 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.”