More counties to receive aerial mosquito treatment

LANSING, Mich. — Several West Michigan counties will receive aerial treatment for mosquitoes Tuesday night to fight Eastern equine encephalitis.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is planning to aerially treat portions of Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties.

If rain impedes the ability to spray the areas, portions of Kent, Montcalm and Newaygo counties will receive treatment Tuesday night instead.

The treatment schedule is weather-dependent. Any updates to it will be posted on the state’s website.

On Monday, more than 128,000 acres of land were sprayed. Kalamazoo County health officials said the county will not be treated because of the high volume of residents who opted out.

Residents can opt out of the treatment by emailing eee@michigan.gov at least 48 hours ahead of the scheduled time.

The state says crews will use Merus 3.0, an organic pesticide naturally found in some chrysanthemum flowers. The chemical is toxic to mosquitoes, ant, flies and other pests.

It does not pose general health risks to humans, pets or animals, and shouldn’t impact drinking water, the state said.

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. So far, nine human cases have been confirmed in Michigan, with three of them becoming fatal. Twenty-seven animal cases have also been confirmed.

Signs of EEE infection include the sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint aches, which can progress to severe encephalitis, further resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures, and paralysis. Permanent brain damage, coma, and death may also occur in some cases.

People can reduce their risks by using bug spray with DEET, avoiding being outside at dusk, wearing long sleeve clothing, and getting rid of standing water on their property.

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