Oakland Southfield Physicians

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Eastern Equine Encephalitis Update

Posted: 10/01/2019

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has confirmed nine human cases of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) in southwest Michigan including Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties, including three deaths. The disease is caused by the bite of an infected mosquito; persons younger than 15 and over age 50 seem to be most vulnerable. Only 4-5% of people infected with the virus will become sick.

Animals are most affected because it occurs frequently around swampy areas where populations are sparse, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms take four to 10 days to emerge, can include the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills and vomiting and can progress into disorientation, seizures and coma. Approximately, 33% of people who develop EEE die.

There is no treatment for EEE because antibiotics are not effective against viruses, per the CDC, and no anti-viral agent has been discovered. The best strategy is prevention. One Medical Group, Inc. offers these suggestions:

  1. Avoid being out-of-doors at dusk when mosquitoes tend to be active or by wearing long sleeves and pants.
  2. Eliminate mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water.
  3. Keep mosquitoes outside (double check your window screens.)
  4. Use mosquito repellent.
  5. Wear light-colored clothing, especially outdoors (because dark colors apparently attract bugs.)
  6. Make yourself less appealing; scientists are still studying what makes some people attract more mosquito bites than others. Try wearing a scent mosquitoes don’t like; Avon’s Skin So Soft bath oil is one popular mom’s remedy.
  7. Try a natural repellent. Oil of lemon eucalyptus comes from a eucalyptus tree in Australia, but the synthetic version, endorsed by the CDC, is found in brand names such as Repel, Bug Shield and Cutter but is not approved for use in children under age three.

For more information, visit Michigan.gov.

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