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First EEE case confirmed in Eaton County

Greg Chandler

Staff Writer

Another case of the mosquito-borne disease Eastern equine encephalitis has been confirmed in a neighboring county.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Tuesday reported a case of EEE in a deer in Eaton County. It's the first case, either animal of human, of the disease in that county.

“[The] onset date appears to be end of September,” MDHHS spokesperson Lynn Sutfin said in a press release.

Eaton is the 17th Michigan county where an EEE case has been confirmed. A total of 46 animal cases, including five in Barry County, have been diagnosed across the state since early August. Ten human cases have been confirmed, including one in Barry County. Five of the 10 people who have contracted EEE have died from the illness, Sutfin said.

EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the U.S., with a 33 percent fatality rate. Survivors are often left with physical or mental disabilities.

Eaton was one of the counties that was not sprayed earlier this month to combat EEE. More than 557,000 acres in 14 counties was sprayed with an organic pesticide known as Merus 3.0 in an effort to kill off the mosquito population. More than 107,000 acres in seven townships in Barry County were included in the overnight aerial spraying.

Other counties where EEE cases have been confirmed include Allegan, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Genesee, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lapeer, Livingston, Montcalm, Newaygo, St. Joseph, Tuscola and Van Buren.

While light frost has been reported in Barry County, health officials continue to urge residents to continue to protect themselves from mosquito bites by:

- Avoiding being outdoors from dusk to dawn when mosquitos that carry the EEE virus are most active.

- Applying 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.

- Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors and applying insect repellent to clothing to help prevent bites.

- Maintaining window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes outside.

- Emptying water from mosquito breeding sites around the home, such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes may lay eggs.

- Using nets or fans over outdoor eating areas.

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