EEE threatens Genesee County


IMAGE / Wikimedia Commons

Eastern Equine Encephalitis led to the euthanization of a deer in Genesee County on Wednesday, Sept. 18.

Health officials urge citizens to protect themselves from mosquitoes after euthanizing a deer infected with Eastern Equine Encephalitis in Genesee County on Wednesday, Sept. 18.

According to the Genesee County Health Department, no human cases of EEE have been reported in Genesee County.

Despite the lack of human cases reported in Genesee County, there is still risk.

While the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recommends postponing or canceling any outdoor activities that occur at or after dusk — a time when mosquitoes are most active — many Genesee County school districts are continuing outdoor events as previously scheduled.

Mr. Kevin Walworth released a district-wide statement regarding EEE on Wednesday, Sept. 18.

“We do not anticipate any change to outdoor recess or daytime activities,” Walworth said. “If it is necessary for after-school events to be canceled or changed, we will update you as soon as possible.”

The statement said Kearsley will monitor the situation and make appropriate changes as the outbreak develops.

Mr. Eric Doyle, athletics director, said Kearsley will stand with many Genesee County and Metro League schools in not rescheduling athletics events.

“We’ve discussed the possibility (of rescheduling athletics events) as a district, at the county level, and especially on the Metro League level,” Doyle said. “We plan to stick together in our decision.”

Doyle said the district is aware of the EEE situation but does not plan to make any changes at this point in time.

The Genesee County Health Department strongly encourages residents take precautions when going outside, especially those under 15 years old and the elderly. Anyone can be infected with the disease.

We’ve discussed the possibility (of rescheduling athletics events) as a district, at the county level, and especially on the Metro League level. We plan to stick together in our decision.

— Mr. Eric Doyle, athletics director

Those who must go outside at dusk should use DEET-based insect repellents on any exposed skin or clothing and wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.

While infants under 2 months old cannot use insect repellents, GCHD advises parents to dress them in long clothing and to cover strollers with mosquito netting.

Eliminating standing water on properties is encouraged in order to eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Similar to West Nile Virus, EEE’s symptoms include fever, chills, and body aches.

As it develops, the disease can cause encephalitis, seizures, tremors, and paralysis. Permanent brain damage, coma, and death can occur in some cases.

Anyone exhibiting symptoms should seek medical attention immediately.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive in the state of Michigan, called the outbreak Michigan’s worst in more than a decade.

“Michigan is currently experiencing its worst Eastern Equine Encephalitis outbreak in more than a decade,” Khaldun said. “The ongoing cases reported in humans and animals and the severity of this disease illustrate the importance of taking precautions against mosquito bites.”