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As if we were not all dealing with enough here in the US with hurricane season, COVID-19, and all these wildfires it seems there is something else to add to the list. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, there has been a suspected case of something known as EEE.

EEE for those who do not know stands for Eastern Equine Encephalitis. This is a deadly mosquito-borne disease and well, it’s nothing to joke about. This case is suspected in a Barry County resident (Michigan) and from here aerial treatments to try and prevent potential spread have likely by now began. 

The MDHHS wrote as follows on this potential case:

A Barry County resident is suspected of having Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Barry-Eaton District Health Department announced today.

Preliminary test results indicate the patient has EEE and confirmatory testing is expected to be completed by the end of the week at the MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories. No additional information will be provided on this individual. This human case is in addition to 22 confirmed cases in horses from 10 counties. Michiganders are strongly urged to protect themselves from mosquito bites following the suspected EEE case along with nine confirmed cases of West Nile Virus.

“This suspected EEE case in a Michigan resident shows this is an ongoing threat to the health and safety of Michiganders and calls for continued actions to prevent exposure, including aerial treatment,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “MDHHS continues to encourage local officials in the affected counties to consider postponing, rescheduling or cancelling outdoor activities occurring at or after dusk, particularly those involving children to reduce the potential for people to be bitten by mosquitoes.”

EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the United States, with a 33 percent fatality rate in people who become ill and a 90 percent fatality rate in horses that become ill. People can be infected with EEE and other mosquito-borne diseases from the bite of a mosquito carrying the viruses.

Signs of EEE infection include the sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint aches which can progress to a severe encephalitis, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures, and paralysis. Anyone who thinks they may be experiencing these symptoms should contact a medical provider. Permanent brain damage, coma, and death may also occur in some cases.

In an effort to prevent the spread of EEE, MDHHS announced plans Monday, Sept. 14 to conduct aerial mosquito control treatment in certain high-risk areas of Michigan. Treatment is scheduled to begin Wednesday, Sept. 16 in the 10 impacted counties: Barry, Clare, Ionia, Isabella, Jackson, Kent, Mecosta, Montcalm, Newaygo, and Oakland. Additional areas may be selected for treatment if new human or animal cases occur outside of the currently identified zones.

From here authorities have been as you’d expect urging people to stay inside after dark to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. While cases of this disease do come up from time to time, working to combat the spread of this disease is important. CNN also noted the incubation period for this disease is about 10 days and while some people face mild symptoms severe cases can be devastating and involve even the swelling of a person’s brain. 

While canceling afternoon outdoor activities might not be ideal, it is important for those in the affected areas to do-so now in order to protect themselves and their loved ones from this kind of thing. Soon we will know if this suspected case is confirmed or not and if it is confirmed it will according to USA Today be the first confirmed case of EEE this year in Michigan. While mosquito-borne illnesses are not something as talked about as they once were, they are still a threat, and we should not forget that they do exist.