September 27th, 2019
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 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 www.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. All of these counties have cases of EEE in people, animals or both. Visit www.Michigan.gov/EEE for more detailed information.
Van Buren Cass District Health Department along with Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is urging residents to 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. Apply insect repellent to clothing to help prevent bites.
• Maintain window and door screenings 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.
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 also 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 deaths 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 the local and state levels. Follow us on our website at www.vbcassdhd.org and our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/VBCDHD.