ALLEGAN, Mich. (WOOD) — Health officials say someone from Allegan County has been diagnosed with one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the country, known as Eastern equine encephalitis.
Although rare in humans, EEE has a 33 percent fatality rate, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Those who survive it often have permanent brain damage.
The MDHHS says the Allegan County resident with confirmed EEE was hospitalized in late August with neurologic symptoms. State health officials say this is the first humane case of EEE reported in Michigan since 2016, when three people were infected.
They say southwest Michigan has experienced EEE in people and horses in the past, with the most recent outbreak in 2010. A vaccination can protect horses from an EEE infection.
EEE is a virus that starts in birds and is spread by mosquitoes near swamps and bogs. Only a few cases are reported each year and typically involve symptoms of fever, headache, chills and nausea. Symptoms may worsen, leading to inflammation of the brain. Disorientation, seizures and coma are red flags of this.
A more common illness caused by mosquitoes is West Nile virus. The Allegan County Health Department says so far, the state has tallied 44 human cases of West Nile and two fatalities.
Residents are urged to protect themselves from mosquito bites by wearing repellant with DEET, dumping out any standing water, wearing thicker, long-sleeved shirts and pants, and avoiding outside during peak feeding times for mosquitoes.