State health officials have confirmed an eighth case of the mosquito-borne virus called Eastern-Equine-Encephalitis, or Triple-E.
Three people in Michigan have died from the virus this year. The Michigan Department of Health and Human services says Triple-E has a 33% fatality rate. The latest person to contract the virus is an adult in Calhoun County.
All eight human cases are in southwest Michigan. But confirmed cases of Triple-E in animals pose a risk to people in 11 counties across the Lower Peninsula.
“There’s been animal cases in other parts of the state which creates concerns,” said Bob Wheaton with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “Because if there’s mosquitos in those counties carrying the EEE virus, and biting animals, they could certainly do the same to humans.”
Wheaton says people in counties with human or animal cases should take steps to limit time spent outside and consider rescheduling outdoor events that take place after dusk (because of the increased risk of mosquito bites).
The eight human Triple-E cases are in Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.
So far there are 21 confirmed animal cases of Triple-E. Counties with confirmed animal cases are: Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Genesee, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lapeer, Montcalm, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties.
Wheaton says it’s the worst Triple-E outbreak in Michigan since 2002. The risk for more cases and the outbreak worsening will continue as long as warm weather hangs around.
“What we really need for this threat to be over is the first hard frost of the year,” Wheaton said. “Once that happens then the risk will be gone."