UPDATE: Indiana & Michigan Report First Human Cases Of EEE

Sep 11, 2020

File - In this Aug. 26, 2019, file photo, a biologist examines a mosquito.
Credit RICK BOWMER/AP PHOTO/FILE

NEW: Today both the State of Indiana and Michigan have reported their first human cases of EEE (Eastern Equine Encaphlitis.) The case in Indiana is in LaPorte County. The case in Michigan is in Barry County. 

(You can read more about the findings in both states in their respective press releases posted below.)

INDIANAPOLIS — State health officials are urging Indiana residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites following reports of a probable case of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) in a LaPorte County resident and the detection of the virus in horses in northern Indiana.

As of Sept. 14, two horses in LaGrange County and one horse in Kosciusko County have tested positive for EEE virus. Because there is suitable habitat for mosquitoes throughout the area, residents of all northern Indiana counties should take precautions.

In 2019, northern Indiana experienced a significant outbreak of EEE virus activity, resulting in 14 horse cases, one fatal human case and one positive mosquito sample.

“Eastern equine encephalitis virus disease is rare in humans but can cause permanent complications and even death,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG. “While all Hoosiers are at risk for mosquito-borne diseases, northern Indiana residents need to be especially vigilant right now.”

State health officials recommend that all Hoosiers take the following steps to prevent mosquito bites:

  • Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are active (especially late afternoon, dusk to dawn, and early morning)
  • Use an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or 2-undecanone on clothes and exposed skin
  • Cover exposed skin by wearing a hat, long sleeves and long pants in places where mosquitoes are especially active, such as wooded areas
  • Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of your home

You can eliminate mosquito breeding sites from your property by doing the following:

  • Discard old tires, tin cans, ceramic pots or other containers that can hold water
  • Repair failed septic systems
  • Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors
  • Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed
  • Clean clogged roof gutters, particularly if leaves tend to plug up the drains
  • Frequently replace the water in pet bowls
  • Flush ornamental fountains and birdbaths periodically
  • Aerate ornamental pools, or stock them with predatory fish

While rare, EEE virus can cause serious illness and has a fatality rate of around 33 percent or higher in people. Many individuals who recover may still experience long-term complications. Symptoms of EEE virus include chills, fever, body aches and joint pain. Some people develop a more severe form of the disease affecting the nervous system and causing encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain. People who are younger than 15 and older than 50 are at the greatest risk of severe disease if infected with EEE virus. People who think they may have EEE virus should visit a healthcare provider.

To see the latest results of the Indiana Department of Health’s mosquito surveillance program, go to https://gis.in.gov/apps/ISDH/Arbo/. To learn more about EEE virus, visit the state Department of Health’s website at https://www.in.gov/isdh/28258.htm.

LANSING, Mich. – A Barry County resident is suspected of having Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Barry-Eaton District Health Department announced today.

Preliminary test results indicate the patient has EEE and confirmatory testing is expected to be completed by the end of the week at the MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories. No additional information will be provided on this individual. This human case is in addition to 22 confirmed cases in horses from 10 counties. Michiganders are strongly urged to protect themselves from mosquito bites following the suspected EEE case along with nine confirmed cases of West Nile Virus.

“This suspected EEE case in a Michigan resident shows this is an ongoing threat to the health and safety of Michiganders and calls for continued actions to prevent exposure, including aerial treatment,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “MDHHS continues to encourage local officials in the affected counties to consider postponing, rescheduling or cancelling outdoor activities occurring at or after dusk, particularly those involving children to reduce the potential for people to be bitten by mosquitoes.”

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 and a 90 percent fatality rate in horses that become ill. People can be infected with EEE and other mosquito-borne diseases from the bite of a mosquito carrying the viruses.

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.

In an effort to prevent spread of EEE, MDHHS announced plans Monday, Sept. 14 to conduct aerial mosquito control treatment in certain high-risk areas of Michigan. Treatment is scheduled to begin Wednesday, Sept. 16 in the 10 impacted counties: Barry, Clare, Ionia, Isabella, Jackson, Kent, Mecosta, Montcalm, Newaygo and Oakland. Additional areas may be selected for treatment if new human or animal cases occur outside of the currently identified zones. 

Aerial treatment will be conducted by Clarke from St. Charles, Ill., using specialized aircraft, beginning in the early evening and continuing up until the following dawn. Treatment will be conducted using Merus 3.0, the same product used in 2019 in Michigan to treat 557,000 acres. Merus 3.0 is registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Michigan Department of Agricultural and Rural Development, and is labeled for public health use over residential areas. 

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.

For more information about EEE, visit Michigan.gov/EEE.