LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Crews will try again Thursday to spray seven Michigan counties for adult mosquitoes carrying Eastern Equine Encephalitis.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says if the weather cooperates, low-flying aircraft will hover over parts of Allegan, Barry, Calhoun, Kent, Montcalm, Newaygo and Jackson counties Thursday evening, treating the areas with a low dose of Merus 3.0.
>>MDHHS: County-level aerial treatment maps
Merus 3.0 is an organic pesticide with 5% pyrethrin, which is found naturally in some chrysanthemum flowers, the MDHHS says. Officials say the mixture is deadly for mosquitoes and some other pests but safe for humans and pets.
MDHHS says 186,146 acres in parts of Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph, Van Buren and Barry counties have already been treated.
Aerial spraying slated for Wednesday evening was postponed because of rain. Despite the delays, Calhoun County Health Officer Eric Pessell told News 8 he expects the treatments to be finished before the end of the weekend.
As of Wednesday, the state had confirmed nine human cases of EEE in six counties: Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo and Van Buren. Four people have died from the mosquito-borne infection, 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 also sickened 33 animals in 15 counties: Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Genesee, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lapeer, Livingston, Montcalm, Newaygo, St. Joseph and Van Buren. MDHHS spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin said all 18 horses, 13 deer and 2 wolf pups died from the infection.
EEE is one of the most dangerous diseases mosquitoes transmit. Although human cases are rare, approximately one in three people sickened by EEE will die from it.
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 MDHHS is also urging people to take steps to deter disease-carrying mosquitoes before they head outside, including using repellents containing DEET on their body and clothes and wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants.
Residents are also encouraged to dump out any standing water in their yard and replacing window and door screens with tears or holes that a mosquito could pass through.
MDHHS on mosquito-borne diseases