Multiple Michigan residents have died from the rare mosquito-borne East Mosquito virus, and several others have become ill.
Because Michigan has been facing the largest outbreak of equine encephalitis for more than a decade, health officials say the only way to protect yourself from the mosquito-borne virus is not to be bitten .
Not only can small bloodsuckers leave an itch when they bite, but they can also infect you with dangerous diseases such as EEE, which killed three people in Michigan this year and sickened four others.
The virus is fatal in 1 in 3 people who develop symptoms of it and can cause long-term damage to those who experience it.
The black-tailed mosquito is the main carrier of EEE. (Photo: C. Roxanne Connelly, UF)
Because mosquitoes are most active between dusk and dawn, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is calling on communities and schools in eight counties – Kalamazoo, Cas, Van Buren , Berrien, Barry, St. Joseph, Genesee and Lapeer – Consider canceling, postponing, or rescheduling outdoor events in the evening or early morning, especially if they involve children.
The people most at risk of becoming ill with EEE are those who are under the age of 15 and those over 50.
How to Avoid Mosquito Bites
1.) Use bug spray : Apply insect repellents containing the active ingredient DEET, or other Protection Agency of the US environment, a registered product should be exposed to exposed skin or clothing, and always follow the manufacturer's instructions for use.
Other effective ingredients include:
- Picaridine (known as KBR 3023 and non-US icaridine)
- Lemon Eucalyptus Oil (OLE)
- Para-menthan-diol (PMD)  2-undecanone
2.) Wear long sleeves, long pants and socks: Although still warm, long clothes can help prevent bites, especially if you apply insect repellent on outer clothing,
3.) Inspect your home. Be sure there are no openings in the windows and doors, so that the mosquitoes remain outside. Repair any screens that are damaged or have holes.
4.) Empty standing water around your house, where mosquitoes breed. Look for water in buckets, unused children's pools, old tires, planers, bird baths, garbage containers or anywhere where mosquitoes can lay their eggs.
Once a week, the CDC recommends that it be emptied and cleaned, turned over, covered, or discarded objects that hold still water.
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant pools, such as this plastic cookie container captured in Friday, September 13, 2019 (Photo: Rick Cruz / PDN)
5.) Stay indoors and after dark when mosquitoes are most active and likely to feed.
6.) Use nets and / or fans to keep your bugs at bay if you plan on eating outdoors / spending time outside when mosquitoes are active.
7.) Babies less than 2 months old No insect repellent should be used. Instead:
- Dress your child in clothes that cover his arms and legs.
- Cover strollers and baby carriers with mosquito nets.
- Do not use products containing lemon eucalyptus (OLE) oil or para-menthane. -diol (PMD) for children under 3 years.
Remaining Month in the Mosquito Season
It is important to continue to take these precautions until the first intense cold, health officials say, when the mosquitoes close for the winter.
It may take a month or more before this happens.
Andrea Honor, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids, said the long-range outlook in Western Michigan suggests more of this average decline.
"Our typical first freeze is right in the middle of October, between October 15 and 20," she said. "Our earliest may be at the end of September and at the latest in the first few weeks of November. This may continue this monthly period."
The next few days, she says, will be temperatures in the upper 70s to low 80s in western Michigan – ideal temperatures for blood-thirsty insects.
MDHHS spokesman Bob Wheaton said the agency did not plan a widespread pesticide spray program in the affected counties that would kill mosquitoes. That way, they could continue to bite – and infect people with EEE – for a few more weeks.
Symptoms of EEE, What to Look for
Symptoms outside of EEE usually occur four to 10 days after a mosquito bite is bitten, according to the CDC. The infection can be systemic or encephalitis, which involves swelling of the brain. Some people who contract EEE have no symptoms at all.
In those who develop a systemic infection, symptoms may appear suddenly and persist for up to two weeks. These include:
- Joint and muscle pain
In people who develop encephalitis, the following symptoms usually follow after a few days of systemic disease:
- ] Headache
- Irritability and anxiety
- Drowsiness, disorientation
- Cyanosis, which is a bluish discoloration of the skin due to poor blood circulation6 1965 Convulsions
Each one of these ptomi should seek care from a doctor.
Contact Kristen Jordan Shamus: 313-222-5997 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @kristenshamus.
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