Health Officials Say Cold Has Ended EEE Threat In Michigan, At Least For Now

WWJ News
November 15, 2019 - 12:01 pm
Biting mosquito

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (WWJ/AP) - Health officials in a southwestern Michigan county say cold weather has ended this year's mosquito season and with it the threat of a deadly mosquito-borne virus.

Berrien County Health Department spokeswoman Gillian Conrad says recent cold, snowy weather wiped out mosquitoes that were spreading the eastern equine encephalitis virus, better known as EEE.

Health officials said there were 10 confirmed human cases of that rare virus this year in southwest Michigan. Five of those people died.

The human cases in 2019 were in Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties. In addition, EEE was confirmed in 40 animals from 16 counties: Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Genesee, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lapeer, Livingston, Montcalm, Newaygo, St. Joseph, Tuscola and Van Buren.

State health officials, in cooperation with local health departments, in the fall conducted aerial spraying of pesticides to combat the mosquito-borne virus, covering more than 557,000 acres targeting 14 counties. Those were the first such aerial treatments in Michigan since 1980.

Health officials warned that EEE is deadliest mosquito-borne illness in the U.S., killing an estimated 33 percent of people who are infected.

So, should Michiganders worry that EEE be back next year? Conrad told WSBT-TV that officials "have no way of predicting" whether the virus will be a problem again in 2020 when mosquito season returns.