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Michiganders should take precautions against EEE

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Posted at 11:56 AM, Sep 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-18 18:36:27-04

LANSING, Mich. — County health departments are sending out warnings on Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) activity in Michigan.

Ionia County Health Department sent out a notification to residents on Wednesday morning.

In the release they ask Michiganders to take precautions against EEE after four cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis were confirmed in Southwest Michigan – including three that were fatal.

“Michigan is currently experiencing its worst Eastern Equine Encephalitis outbreak in more than a decade,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “The ongoing cases reported in humans and animals and the severity of this disease illustrate the importance of taking precautions against mosquito bites.”

Barry-Eaton District Health Department also sent out a release on Wednesday. They stated that: as of September 17, there have been 7 confirmed cases of EEE in humans, including one (1) case in Barry County.

Officials say that people infected with the virus that causes EEE do not become ill. However, persons below the age of 15 or above the age of 50 years have greater risk of developing a severe infection that has high potential for permanent brain damage or death.

"Barry County residents will continue to be at risk for EEE infection until the first frost decreases mosquito populations," they said."The risk of bites from infected mosquitoes is highest for people who work or play outdoors in these areas. Wearing insect repellent containing the active ingredient DEET, or one of the other active ingredients listed below, when outdoors (especially at dawn and dusk), is important to prevent EEE."

Ionia says that people can stay healthy by following these steps:
• 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.

And Barry-Eaton warns that if outdoor events are planned between dusk and dawn, attendees should be encouraged to protect themselves with insect repellents that include the ingredients listed above.

For more information on EEE activity in Michigan, visit michigan.gov/eee.

To learn more about EEE and how to prevent mosquito bites, visit cdc.gov/eee.

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