Return to Headlines

Precautions Regarding Eastern Equine Encephalitis in Southwest Michigan

Kalamazoo RESA has been closely following the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) situation in Southwest Michigan and will continue to be diligent in evaluating the risks. Recently, two cases of EEE, a rare mosquito-borne virus, were confirmed in Kalamazoo County residents and other possible cases are under investigation.

People can become infected with the EEE virus from the bite of a mosquito carrying the virus. It cannot be transmitted person-to-person or person-to-animal. Early symptoms of EEE include sudden onset headache, high fever, chills, body and joint aches. Symptoms typically appear 4-10 days after exposure to the virus. EEE can develop into severe encephalitis or brain swelling, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures and paralysis. Permanent brain damage, coma and death can also occur in some cases. Most people who are infected with the virus that causes EEE never become ill. However, persons under the age of 15 and over the age of 50 are at an increased risk of developing a severe infection.

Families can stay healthy by taking the following actions to avoid mosquito bites:

  • Use insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol and 2-undecanone; follow the product label for instructions and reapply as directed.
    • Do not use repellent on children under the age of two months old. Instead dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs. Cover crib, stroller and baby carrier with mosquito-proof barrier.
  • Wear socks and shoes, light-colored pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outside.
  • Make sure doors and windows are secured with tight-fitted screens.
  • Repair or replace screens with tears and openings.
  • Use mosquito bed netting when sleeping outdoors or in conditions without window screens.
  • Eliminate all sources of standing water that could support mosquito breeding around your home, including water in bird baths, abandoned swimming pools, wading pools, and any other object holding water at least once a week.
  • Use nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas.
  • Avoid outdoor activities from dusk until dawn when mosquitos are most active.

If you have any questions, please contact your healthcare provider or the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department at (269) 373-5200 or visit State of Michigan website or the Center for Disease Control website.