KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo County health officials say one of the people who contracted the rare mosquito-borne illness Eastern Equine Encephalitis has died.
Authorities didn’t release that person’s name Friday. On Tuesday, state officials said the deceased person was 64 years old.
There have been three confirmed cases of EEE in Michigan, all of them in Kalamazoo and Berrien counties. There are an additional two suspected cases in Kalamazoo and Berrien counties and two more cases in Kalamazoo County still under investigation.
One of the patients in Kalamazoo County, 14-year-old Savannah DeHart, has been improving recently was set to be moved to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids Friday, according to a Facebook page run by her mother.
Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services on Friday reminded people to take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites by wearing long sleeves and pants when outdoors at dusk and dawn and using insect repellent with DEET. You should also get rid of any standing water near your home and make sure your door and window screens are well fitted.
EEE is one of the most dangerous diseases mosquitoes can carry. Human cases are rare, but approximately one in three people sickened by EEE will die from it.
The illness cannot be spread from human to human. It’s only carried by mosquitoes. Symptoms include fever, chills and body aches. Severe cases can lead to headaches, disorientation, tremors, seizures, paralysis, brain damage, coma and death.
EEE is more deadly among horses, with a fatality rate of 90%, but there is a vaccine for horses and not humans. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says it has confirmed seven cases of EEE in horses in Barry, Cass, Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties.