EEE Virus Health Alert Per VBISD

EEE Virus Health Alert
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RE: Health Alert for Van Buren and Cass County Residents

Due to the large geographic distribution and number of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) cases in humans and animals, coupled with warm weather projections, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and 12 local health departments have decided to conduct aerial spraying in high risk areas combat further spread of the deadly disease EEE.


Spraying is scheduled to take place starting Sunday, September 29, starting at 8:00 p.m. However, the ability to spray is weather dependent and the schedule may change. Residents are encouraged to visit www.Michigan.gov/EEE for up-to-date information.

Spraying will occur in the following counties: Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lapeer, Montcalm, Newaygo, St. Joseph, and Van Buren. All of these counties have cases of EEE in people, animals, or both. Visit www.Michigan.gov/EE for more detailed information.

Van Buren Cass District Health Department along with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is urging residents to stay healthy by following steps to avoid mosquito bites.

1. 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. 

2. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Apply insect repellent to clothing to help prevent bites.

3. Maintain window and door screenings to help keep mosquitoes outside.

4. 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.

People can be infected with EEE from the bite of a mosquito carrying the virus. The disease is not spread from animal to humans. Signs and symptoms of EEE include sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint aches. EEE infection can develop into severe encephalitis, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures and paralysis. Permanent brain damage, coma and death may occur in some cases, per the press release from MDHHS, September 27, 2019. if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek prompt medical attention.

Two of the three deaths from EEE in our state were from Van Buren and Cass Counties. Further details and serious illnesses can be prevented. The Van Buren/Cass District Health Department supports our state officials' recommendations on how to protect you, our residents, from serious harm. We have been assured that state experts have evaluated safety and efficacy of the proposed spraying program. Additionally, we will continue to educate and encourage people to protect themselves, their loved ones and their neighbors from this disease. Our website, www.vbcassdhd.org, will be kept current with updates and answers to frequently asked questions as well as contact information at thelocal and state levels. Follow us on our website at www.vbcassdhd.org and our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VBCDHD.

Wishing you a healthy fall!

Dr. Larry Wile, MD, MPH
Van Buren/Cass District Health Department
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Aerial spraying being conducted in 14 counties to combat mosquito-borne disease

Eastern Equine Encephalitis cases continue increasing in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. – Due to the large geographic distribution and number of Eastern Equine
Encephalitis (EEE) cases in humans and animals, coupled with warm weather projections,
the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and 12 local health
departments have decided to conduct aerial spraying in high risk areas combat further spread
of the deadly disease EEE.

Spraying is scheduled take place starting Sunday, Sept. 29 starting at 8 p.m. However, the
ability to spray is weather dependent and the schedule may change. Residents are
encouraged to visit Michigan.gov/EEE for up-to-date information.

Spraying will occur in the following 14 counties: Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun,
Cass, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lapeer, Montcalm, Newaygo, St. Joseph and Van Buren.
Visit Michigan.gov/EEE for more detailed information.

Aerial spraying is conducted by low-flying aircraft, beginning in the early evening and continuing up until 4:30 a.m. the next morning, in areas of concern. Mosquito control professionals will apply approved pesticides as an ultra-low volume (ULV) spray. ULV sprayers dispense very fine aerosol droplets that stay suspended in the air and kill adult mosquitoes on contact. This is a tactic other states, including Massachusetts and Rhode
Island, have recently employed to combat EEE.

“We are taking this step to help protect the health and safety of Michiganders in areas of the
state that are being affected by this dangerous mosquito-borne disease,” said Dr. Joneigh
Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “The continuing
number of cases in both people and animals indicate an ongoing risk for EEE exposure. We
continue to urge residents to protect themselves against mosquito bites until a hard frost.”

The pesticide being used is Merus 3.0 which is an organic pesticide containing 5 percent pyrethrin. Pyrethrins are chemicals found naturally in some chrysanthemum flowers. They are a mixture of six chemicals that are toxic to insects. Pyrethrins are commonly used to control mosquitoes, fleas, flies, moths, ants and many other pests. Pyrethrins have been registered for use in pesticides since the 1950s.

In general, health risks are not expected during or after spraying. No special precautions are recommended; however, residents and individuals who have known sensitivities to pyrethrins can reduce potential for exposure by staying indoors during spraying. Aerial spraying is not expected to have any impacts on surface water or drinking water.

Aerial spraying will be conducted in the nighttime hours as this is when mosquitos are more
active. It is also when fish are less likely to be at the surface feeding and honeybees are most
likely to be in their hives. However, owners should cover small ornamental fishponds during
the night of spraying. While it is not necessary to bring animals indoors during spraying,
concerned pet owners can bring animals inside during spraying.

Additional information about aerial spraying and other health-related information is available
in a Frequently Asked Questions document at Michigan.gov/EEE.

As of Sept. 27, EEE has been confirmed in nine people, with three fatalities, in Barry, Berrien,
Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties. In addition, cases have occurred in 27
animals from 13 counties: Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Genesee, Jackson, Kalamazoo,
Kent, Lapeer, Montcalm, Newaygo, St. Joseph and Van Buren. There is an EEE vaccine
available for horses, but not for people. Additional animal cases are under investigation.

MDHHS is continuing to encourage local officials in the affected counties to consider
postponing, rescheduling or cancelling outdoor activities occurring at or after dusk,
particularly activities that involve children. This would include events such as late evening
sports practices or games or outdoor music practices. The MDHHS recommendation is being
made out of an abundance of caution to protect the public health and applies until the first
hard frost of the year.

EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the United States, with a 33
percent fatality rate in people who become ill. People can be infected with EEE from the bite
of a mosquito carrying the viruses. Persons younger than age 15 and over age 50 are at
greatest risk of severe disease following infection.

Although the aerial spray is considered necessary to reduce human risk, it will not eliminate
it. Residents must continue to protect themselves from mosquito bites by:

• Avoid being outdoors from dusk to dawn when mosquitos that carry the EEE virus are
most active.

• Applying 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.

• Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Apply insect repellent to
clothing to help prevent bites.

• Maintaining window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes outside.

• Emptying water from mosquito breeding sites around the home, such as buckets, unused
kiddie pools, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes may lay eggs.

• Using nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas.

Signs of EEE infection include the sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint aches which
can progress to a severe encephalitis, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures
and paralysis. Anyone who thinks they may be experiencing these symptoms should contact
a medical provider. Permanent brain damage, coma and death may also occur in some
cases.

More information, including a Frequently Asked Questions document, are available at
Michigan.gov/EEE.

-Department of Health and Human Services
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