Suspected human cases of EEE growing; 2 confirmed in SW MI

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek
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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan health officials are investigating five more potential cases of a dangerous mosquito-borne disease in West Michigan.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin says the agency has confirmed two cases of eastern equine encephalitis in Kalamazoo and Berrien counties. She says MDHHS is investigating another five suspected cases — four in Kalamazoo County and one in Berrien County.

Sutfin says all of those sickened were hospitalized at some point. However, their current conditions are unclear.

A Kalamazoo County girl is among those who came down with the disease. Savanah DeHart, 14, remains in the hospital but is off a ventilator, according to a Facebook update by her mother.

DeHart’s family is planning to eventually transfer her to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids to begin the long road to recovery.

EEE is one of the most dangerous diseases mosquitoes can carry. Although human cases are rare, approximately one in three people sickened by EEE will die from it.

Symptoms of EEE 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 as of Monday, it’s confirmed six cases of EEE in horses in Barry, Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties. None of the sickened horses were vaccinated against EEE and all of them have died, according to the MDHHS.

The state says two deer in Barry and Cass counties have also been diagnosed with EEE.

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