LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Michigan state health officials report two more people have died of a mosquito-borne disease in West Michigan, with three fatalities so far this year connected to the illness.
The latest two confirmed fatalities are linked to Eastern Equine Encephalitis in Southwest Michigan.
Since July, Michigan has had seven confirmed human cases of EEE including the two fatal incidents in Cass and Van Buren counties.
State residents are being strongly advised by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
“Michigan is currently experiencing its worst Eastern Equine Encephalitis outbreak in more than a decade,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health.
In addition to the human cases, as of September 16th, nine cases of EEE in horses had been confirmed and all nine have died. There is an EEE vaccine available for horses, but not for people.
Also, five deer in Michigan have been confirmed with EEE infection and were euthanized because of how severe the symptoms of the disease were.
MDHHS is encouraging local officials in five Southwest Michigan counties that have been impacted by human EEE cases and three counties which have had animal EEE cases to postpone, reschedule or cancel outdoor activities after dusk.
This recommendation would include events such as late evening sports practices or games or outdoor music practices until the first hard frost of the year.
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.
In humans, symptoms can include sudden onset of fever, chills, body aches. These symptoms can progress to a severe encephalitis, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures and paralysis. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should visit their physician’s office. In some cases, permanent brain damage, coma and death can also occur.
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