Health Officials Warn About Risk Of Eastern Equine Encephalitis

State and local health officials are urging everyone to take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites as an increased number of Eastern Equine Encephalitis cases have been reported in Michigan this year. Berrien County Health Department spokesperson Gillian Conrad spoke with WSJM News about the illness.

“There have been seven cases that have been confirmed in the state of Michigan so far this year,” Conrad said. “Those cases have occurred in residents from the southwest Michigan area, including Cass, Van Buren, Barry County, Kalamazoo County, and Berrien County.”

There’s been one confirmed case and one suspected case in Berrien County. Conrad says Eastern Equine Encephalitis is spread by mosquitoes to humans, horses, and deer. It comes with the sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint aches, and can progress to a severe encephalitis.

“Eastern Equine Encephalitis is extremely rare, but it can be fatal in humans, and therefore it is very serious. There is about a 30% fatality rate.”

Conrad recommends wearing long sleeves and pants and using bug spray that includes DEET. You can find out more about Eastern Equine Encephalitis at the website of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.