BLOOMINGDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Aerial spraying for mosquitoes carrying Eastern Equine Encephalitis is expected to wrap up Monday night in West Michigan.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the area of Bloomingdale Township in northern Van Buren County is scheduled to be treated beginning around 7:30 p.m. Monday. It’s the last area expected to be treated for mosquitoes, based on MDHHS’ map.
So far, crews have treated more than 541,000 acres in 14 counties for adult mosquitoes possibly carrying EEE, including Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Kent, Montcalm, Newaygo, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties.
Crews in low-flying planes have been spraying specific areas with Merus 3.0. organic insecticide, Merus 3.0 It’s an organic insecticide that contains 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.
Although aerial spraying is expected to end, prevention efforts are far from over. In a notice sent to parents, Rockford Public Schools said a contractor would be spraying for mosquitoes Thursday at all elementary schools, RAMS stadium, North Rockford Middle School and Ted Carlson Stadium, weather permitting. The district said none of the spraying would happen near school buildings or playgrounds during school hours and signs would be posted when the work is complete.
School districts are also continuing to shuffle sports schedules around to prevent players from being outside during dusk, when mosquitoes are most active. Grandville announced Monday that its Friday varsity football game at West Ottawa High School would start earlier, with a 5:30 p.m. kickoff. Families are encouraged to check their school districts’ website for updated practice and game times.
The EEE threat also prompted the Kent County Parks Department to postpone its Oct. 26 Seidman Park trail building project until 10 a.m. on Nov. 9.
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 34 animals in 15 counties: Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Genesee, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lapeer, Livingston, Montcalm, Newaygo, St. Joseph and Van Buren. At least 18 horses, 13 deer and 2 rare wolf pups have died from the infection.
EEE is one of the most dangerous diseases mosquitoes transmit. Although human cases are rare, approximately one in three people visibly 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.
In addition to spraying areas that have not opted out of treatment, MDHHS is urging people to deter disease-carrying mosquitoes by using repellents containing DEET on their body and clothes and wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants.
Officials from Kalamazoo County announced Friday they would be stocking homeless shelters and senior centers with 400-500 containers of insect repellent containing DEET. The Kalamazoo city office and Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department will also be carrying repellent for distribution.
Residents are also encouraged to dump out any standing water in their yard and replace window and door screens with tears or holes that a mosquito could pass through.
The MDHHS says the risk of EEE should be eliminated when mosquitoes carrying the infection are killed by the first hard frost.
MDHHS on mosquito-borne diseases