The state of Michigan has completed an aerial spraying program over nearly a half million acres in hopes of reducing the risk of a disease spread by mosquitoes.
The state has been dealing with another outbreak of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). Health officials say EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the United States. It's rare, but has a 33% fatality rate for people who get sick.
This year, Michigan officials say two people and more than two dozen horses have tested positive or are suspected of having EEE.
“Aerial treatment was important to protect the health and safety of Michiganders,” says Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health for MDHHS. “We continue to urge communities and residents to take precautions against mosquito bites as the risk of EEE remains until the first hard frost.”
To cut down on mosquitoes in the affected areas, the state has conducted an aerial spraying program this month, treating 462,000 thousand acres.
EEE has been detected in more than a dozen counties (Allegan, Barry, Calhoun, Clare, Ionia, Isabella, Jackson, Kent, Livingston, Mecosta, Montcalm, Newaygo and Oakland).
People can be infected with EEE from one bite of a mosquito carrying the virus. Persons younger than age 15 and over age 50 are at greatest risk of severe disease following infection.
Residents can stay healthy by following steps to avoid mosquito bites:
- Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved product to exposed skin or clothing, and always follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.
- 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, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes may lay eggs.
- Use nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas.