EEE found in Barry County mosquito pool

Barry County

A rig used to capture mosquitoes to help determine population size and whether populations are carrying diseases like West Nile virus. (July 13, 2021)

HASTINGS, Mich. (WOOD) — Health officials are reminding people to wear insect repellent and take other measures to avoid mosquito bites after pests in Barry County were found to be carrying Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

The pool in Barry County was the first group of mosquitoes found to have EEE in the state so far this year. Earlier this week, officials said a horse in Livingston County in mid-Michigan had contracted EEE.

“These discoveries indicate that the EEE virus is here in Michigan and provides warning that residents could also become infected by a mosquito,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, said in a Friday statement. “Michigan residents are urged to take precautions and protect themselves from mosquito bites as EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the U.S…”

Most people who contract the mosquito-borne virus don’t show any symptoms but of those who do get sick, a third die. The rate is even worse for horses — 90% of horses who develop EEE symptoms die. However, there is a vaccine for horses and not one for people.

Practices like wearing insect repellents with DEET, wearing long sleeves and pants, making sure your window screens are in good repair to keep mosquitoes out of your house and getting rid of standing water where mosquitoes breed, will also help protect you from other mosquito-borne illnesses like West Nile virus. It’s also unusual to get sick from West Nile, but serious cases can prove fatal. So far this year, no people have contracted EEE or West Nile.

People should also talk with their veterinarian about getting horses vaccinated against EEE.

EEE generally starts popping up in late summer and early fall. Health officials say it and other mosquito-borne illnesses will remain a threat until a hard freeze kills them off in late fall.

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