In the midst of battling the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Michigan is now battling a deadly mosquito-transmitted brain infection called Eastern Equine Encephalitis.
On Thursday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said it had increased nighttime aerial anti-mosquito spraying on Wednesday of high-risk areas of western Michigan after 28 horses and one human are suspected of having contracted the disease over the span of 11 counties in the state. Planes began spraying the plant-based insecticide, Merus 3.0 Back in 2019, the state sprayed the pesticide over more than 500,000 acres.
Health officials are urging residents to cancel outdoor activities due to the risk of mosquito bites. The state is also not allowing residents to opt-out of spraying, which they had in previous years.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is generally rare in humans. However, 30% of those who do contract the disease succumb to it. For survivors, they are at risk of facing long term neurological damage. According to the CDC, only five people in the United States had been diagnosed with the disease as of September 9th, not including the Michigan case.
Symptoms of EEE include fever, chills, malaise, arthralgia, and myalgia. However, if the EEE progresses to neurologic disease, the symptoms can include fever, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, behavioral changes, drowsiness, and coma. There is currently no approved human vaccine or specific antiviral treatment for EEE.