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MDCH Confirms Third Human Eastern Equine Encephalitis Case

August 23, 2010

LANSING - The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) today has confirmed a third case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in Barry County. A 52-year-old woman, who first fell ill in late July and was hospitalized, is in a rehabilitation center recovering from the illness. The previous two human cases of EEE are in Kalamazoo County. A 61-year-old man is home recovering from the illness while a 41-year-old man is in intensive care in a Kalamazoo County hospital. All human cases have a history of local exposure to mosquitoes. These are the first human cases reported in Michigan since 2002. No further details about the three cases are being released.

The MDCH and the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) are continuing to receive reports of cases of EEE in horses in Southwest Michigan, including Barry, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, and St. Joseph counties. EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the U.S., killing one third of those hospitalized with the infection, and often leaving survivors with lasting brain damage. In the face of this ongoing outbreak, Michigan residents are urged to take precautions against mosquito bites.

A virus of birds that is spread by mosquitoes, EEE is a rare illness in humans. Only a few human cases are reported each year in the U.S. People who become ill with EEE may experience fever, headache, chills and nausea. In some cases, symptoms may progress to inflammation of the brain, signaled by disorientation, seizures and coma. Physicians treating patients with these symptoms should consider testing for EEE and other mosquito-borne viruses and should report suspect cases to their local health department.

EEE is spread by mosquitoes and causes inflammation of the horses' brains and leads to death in up to 90 percent of the cases. People cannot get the disease from horses, only from mosquitoes.

Steps people should take to protect themselves include:

Use repellent: When outdoors, use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus on exposed skin and/or clothing. The repellent/insecticide permethrin can be used on clothing to protect through several washes. Always follow the directions on the product label.

Stay indoors when mosquitoes are biting: Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn.

Wear protective clothing: Wear long sleeves and pants when weather permits.

Install and repair screens: Have secure, intact screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.

Keep mosquitoes from laying eggs near you: Mosquitoes can lay eggs even in small amounts of standing water. Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets, barrels, and tires. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Empty children's wading pools and store on their side after use.

For more information on the human health impact of EEE, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's EEE Web site at

For updates on equine and human cases of EEE and other mosquito-borne diseases in Michigan, visit the Emerging Diseases Web site at