Aerial EEE spraying continues in W MI counties

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Aerial spraying to kill mosquitoes among an outbreak of the Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus will continue in several Michigan counties Sunday night into Monday morning.

Assuming the weather cooperates, parts of southern Allegan County, western Calhoun County, northeastern Kent County, southwestern Montcalm County and southeastern Van Buren County will be sprayed, as well as the Fort Custer Training Center between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek.

>>Online: Specific treatment regions

Spraying begins at dusk and continues until 4:30 a.m. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is using an ultra-low dose of organic insecticide Merus 3.0, which officials say is deadly for mosquitoes and some other pests but safe for humans and pets.

Humans don’t usually contract the mosquito-borne illness, but when they do, it can be deadly. About a third of people who develop any symptoms will die. MDHHS has recorded nine human cases of EEE this year, all of them in southwestern Michigan. Four of the patients have died, including 79-year-old Stan Zalner of Battle Creek and 64-year-old Gregg McChesney of Richland. The other people killed came from Cass and Van Buren counties.

EEE has sickened or killed animals, including horses, deer and two rare wolf pups, in 15 counties. Ninety percent of horses who contract it die, but they can be vaccinated. There is no human vaccination.

Health officials have reminded people to use insect repellents containing DEET on their body and clothes and wear long-sleeved shirts and pants at from dusk to dawn, when mosquitoes may be more active.

The threat of EEE will remain until the first hard frost of the year kills mosquitoes. Storm Team 8 says that should be in mid-October in southwestern counties.

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