Ruffed grouse tests positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis in Marquette County

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FILE – In this Aug. 26, 2019, file photo, Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District biologist Nadja Reissen examines a mosquito in Salt Lake City. State and federal health officials are reporting a higher than usual number of deaths and illnesses from a rare, mosquito-borne virus this year. Eastern equine encephalitis has been diagnosed in a score of people in six states and several people have died so far this year. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) – The Marquette County Health Department (MCHD) released information on Wednesday that a ruffed grouse tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).

According to the MCHD, EEE has been diagnosed in four ruffed grouse around the U.P. over the past few years. They believe EEE in wild bird populations indicates that EEE is carried by mosquitoes in Marquette County and across the U.P.

EEE has a 90% fatality rate among horses that become ill.

MCHD listed that EEE has a 33% fatality rate among humans who become ill. While infection can come from a mosquito bite, it is not transmitted from person to person.

Signs and symptoms of EEE include sudden fever and chills along with body and joint aches. The illness can develop into severe encephalitis which presents as headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures, and paralysis. Permanent brain damage, coma, and death are also possible.

Humans protect themselves from mosquito bites by using insect repellents with DEET as an active ingredient. You should apply it to your exposed skin and clothing. People should also wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors. Keep screens in your windows and doors. Don’t leave water in buckets, kiddie pools, tires, or similar places where mosquitoes may lay eggs.

Horse owners are encouraged to speak to their veterinarian about vaccinating their horses against EEE. They can place horses under fans in their barns to keep mosquitoes away. The use of animal approved insect repellent is encouraged.

MCHD said mosquito-borne illness will continue to be a risk in Michigan until late fall when nighttime temperatures consistently fall below freezing.

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