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Fifth death in Michigan from mosquito-borne EEE infection

Joint Base San Antonio

Five people have now died of Eastern Equine Encephalytis or EEE in Michigan. The illness is spread by mosquitos. The latest victim lived in Cass County.

Lynn Sutfin is with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

She says people should not let down their guard, even though freezing temperatures are forecast for some parts of lower Michigan Monday night.  

"We're still urging residents to take precautions against mosquitos because the risk of EEE can return if there's not been a sustained period of freezing temperatures, and temperatures go back up into the 50s and 60s," says Sutfin.

People are being urged to wear long sleeves and long pants outdoors, apply insect repellent when outdoors, fix any holes in their window screens, and discard standing water on their properties, where mosquitos can breed.

In total, EEE has been confirmed in 10 people, with five fatalities. Cases happened in Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.

In addition, EEE been confirmed in 40 animals from 16 counties: Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Genesee, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lapeer, Livingston, Montcalm, Newaygo, St. Joseph, Tuscola and Van Buren.

MDHHS says 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 leaving many survivors with physical and mental disabilities.

Aerial treatment covering more than 557,000 acres targeting 14 counties in Michigan was completed Oct. 7 to help combat EEE.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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