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Mosquitos in Bay County test positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis

A female <em>Anopheles gambiae </em>mosquito feeds on human blood through a mosquito net.
Emily Lund
A female Anopheles gambiae mosquito feeds on human blood through a mosquito net.

State officials are warning Michiganders to take precautions against mosquito bites after mosquitos in Bay County tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus on Monday.

EEE is a mosquito-borne disease that can result in severe illness.

Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, the chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said EEE is considered one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the United States with a 33% fatality rate for individuals who become ill.

The disease can be transmitted to humans through a single mosquito bite and those under the age of 15 or over 50 years old are at greatest risk.

Symptoms of the disease include fever, chills and body and joint aches. The disease can progress to severe encephalitis which can lead to paralysis, permanent brain damage, or death.

There are currently no reported cases of an EEE infection, however, state officials are urging people to use appropriate preventative measures including wearing insect repellant, clothing that covers exposed skin, and emptying standing water from around their homes.

Horses are also susceptible to EEE with a 90% fatality rate for horses who become ill.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development recommends horse owners consult with their veterinarians regarding vaccinations against EEE. It is also advised that horse owners place their animals in barns with fans during peak mosquito activity and use approved insect repellent on them.

In previous years, EEE has claimed lives and affected both humans and animals in Michigan.

While there were no human cases reported in 2022, three horses and one bird succumbed to the disease.

In 2021, there was one reported human case of EEE, while there were four cases in 2020, two of which were fatal. In 2019, Michigan had 10 reported cases of EEE, which resulted in six fatalities.

Renae joined the WCMU News Department in May 2023. Her reporting has also been featured in The Huron Daily Tribune and CM Life.