A 10th Michigan resident has been confirmed to have the eastern equine encephalitis virus, the state health department said.

Five more animal cases also were confirmed in horses in Jackson, Kent and Tuscola counties, officials said Tuesday. 

This year, 15 Michigan counties have reported cases of EEE. The virus has infected 10 Michigan residents (one in Barry, two in Berrien, one in Calhoun, two in Cass, three in Kalamazoo, and one Van Buren counties) leading to four fatalities, the agency said.

Aerial insecticide spraying in 14 counties to combat the virus spread by mosquitoes has been completed, the state health department said.

In addition to the new horse cases, EEE also has infected 34 animals from 16 counties. The latest Cass County case and five additional horse cases were discovered prior to aerial treatment, which began on Sept. 30, officials said.

“In one year, we have had more human EEE cases confirmed than in the past decade,” said Joneigh Khaldun, the department's chief medical executive and chief deputy for health in a statement. 

“We chose to conduct aerial treatment to protect the health and safety of Michiganders. We also continue to urge communities and residents to take precautions against mosquito bites as the risk of EEE remains until the first hard frost.”

Insecticide to kill mosquitoes that carry the virus was sprayed in parts of Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Jackson, Kent, Lapeer, Livingston, Montcalm, Newaygo, St. Joseph, Van Buren and Washtenaw counties.

EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the United States, with a 33% fatality rate in people who become ill, and leaving many survivors with physical and mental disabilities.

Officials do not plan to spray any additional areas since upcoming weather conditions won't be as effective. Overnight temperatures must be above 50 degrees, officials said.

Most people who become infected with EEE do not develop any symptoms. Some people who are infected develop chills, fever, weakness, muscle and joint pain with illness lasting up to two weeks. Most recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.

Tips to avoid contacting the virus:

• Avoid being outdoors from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes that carry the EEE virus are most active.

• Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-registered product to exposed skin or clothing, and always follow the manufacturer’s directions for use. 

• Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants outdoors. Apply insect repellent to clothing to help prevent bites. 

• Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes outside. 

• Empty water from mosquito breeding sites around the home, such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, tires or similar sites where mosquitoes may lay eggs. 

• Use nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas.

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez

Read or Share this story: