Equine encephalitis leads to Oakland Co. mosquito spraying

To prevent spread of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will conduct aerial mosquito control treatment in certain high-risk areas of Michigan.

Treatment is scheduled to start the evening of Wednesday, September 16. The schedule, which includes areas in northeastern Oakland County, may change due to weather conditions. For up-to-date information and a map, visit michigan.gov/EEE.

According to an MDHHS email, authorities have confirmed 22 cases of EEE among horses in 10 counties, twice as many as the same time last year. Additional animal cases are under investigation.

An EEE vaccine exists for horses, but not humans. To date, no human cases have been reported in Michigan, but high rates of animal infections put humans at risk.

EEE has a 33 percent fatality rate in people who become ill, and people can be infected from one bite of a mosquito carrying the virus. More than 25 percent of the nation’s EEE cases last year were diagnosed in Michigan.

“We are taking this step in an effort to protect the health and safety of Michiganders in areas of the state where we know mosquitoes are carrying this potentially deadly disease,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “As people are spending more time outdoors because of COVID-19, they also need to be protecting themselves from mosquito bites.”

For more information about aerial treatment, which begins at dusk and continues until dawn, visit michigan.gov/EEE or call the MDHHS hotline, which will now take calls for general questions about both COVID and EEE, at 888-535-6136, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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