Michigan residents reminded to protect against mosquito bites

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LANSING, MI (WILX) -- The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is reminding residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites following the confirmation of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in the state.

As of Aug. 12, two cases of EEE have been confirmed in horses in Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties. The two horses were not vaccinated against the virus and both animals have died.

The MDHHS said there is a vaccine available for horses, but not people.

“These equine deaths indicate that EEE virus activity is increasing and provides warning that human cases could also occur,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health. “Michigan residents are urged to take precautions and protect themselves from mosquito bites.”

The MDHHS said the southwestern region of the state has experience outbreaks of this mosquito-borne disease in horses and people in the past, with the most recent outbreaks occurring in the early 1980s. The MDHHS said the virus is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases.

The MDHHS said residents can 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 screening 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.

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

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