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3 human cases of a deadly mosquito-borne virus suspected in Western Michigan



KALAMAZOO, Michigan – State health officials suspect three residents of Western Michigan have contracted a deadly mosquito-borne disease.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services officials said Monday, Aug. 26 that they are investigating potential cases of eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) in three Kalamazoo and Berrien counties

In addition, Six horses in the cities of Barry, Kalamazoo and St. Joseph died of the disease this year, MDHHS officials said.

While there is an EEE vaccine for horses, there is no such vaccine for humans. EEE has a mortality rate of 33 percent in humans and 90 percent in horses, health officials say.

Like the West Nile virus, humans contract EEE from mosquito bites that transmit the virus. There have been no reports of human cases of West Nile virus this year, although health officials have found infected mosquitoes and birds.

Another mosquito-borne virus called California encephalitis has been confirmed in a resident of Genesis County.

"Mosquito-borne diseases can cause long-term effects on human health and even death," said MD Mary Grace Stobierski, MDHHS's state public health veterinarian. "These cases, along with the confirmed cases of horses and roe deer in the country, underscore the importance of taking precautionary measures against mosquito bites."

Health officials recommend the use of DEET insect repellents to avoid mosquito bites. wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, securing windows and doors screens, emptying any pooled water outdoors, and keeping out of the area with mains.

Signs of EEE include sudden fever, chills, body aches and joints. Symptoms of the California encephalitis virus include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and lethargy.

Both diseases can develop in severe, acute inflammation of the brain leading to headache, disorientation, tremor, seizures and paralysis.

In some cases, permanent brain damage, coma and death can occur.

More information can be found here.


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