Michigan reports 8th human case of mosquito-borne disease

The Detroit News

Lansing — An eighth human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis has been reported in Michigan, the state Department of Health and Human Services said Friday.

The case, diagnosed in an adult resident of Calhoun County, follows cases confirmed in residents of Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, and Van Buren counties, including three deaths.

A female Aedes albopictus mosquito acquiring a blood meal from a human host.

“The increasing geographic spread and increasing number of EEE cases in humans and animals indicate that the risk for EEE is ongoing,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “We continue to urge Michiganders to protect themselves against mosquito bites until the first hard frost.” 

Testing at the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory has  identified EEE in one animal each in Calhoun, Jackson and Montcalm counties. As of Friday, EEE has been confirmed in 21 animals from 11 counties: Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Genesee, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lapeer, Montcalm, St. Joseph and Van Buren.

There is an EEE vaccine available for horses, but not for people. Additional animal cases are under investigation.

EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the United States, with a 33% fatality rate in people who become ill. People can be infected with EEE from the bite of a mosquito carrying the viruses.

Signs of EEE include the sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint aches that can progress to a severe encephalitis, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures and paralysis. Permanent brain damage, coma and death may also occur in some cases.