An increase in cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis has prompted health officials to ask Southwest Michigan residents to take precautions. Rebecca Burns, Health Officer with the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency, says the Michigan Department Of Health And Human Services is advising residents of the State to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
To date, there have been seven human cases of EEE reported in Southwest Michigan, and three of the individuals infected have died. None of those were in St. Joseph, Branch or Hillsdale Counties. However, there have been three confirmed cases of EEE in horses in St. Joseph County, and all three of these animal have died.
The geographic area effected by EEE human cases include the counties of Berrien,
Cass, Van Buren, Kalamazoo and Barry. The MDHHS is encouraging local officials in these counties, along with St. Joseph to consider postponing, rescheduling or canceling outdoor activities at or after dusk, particularly activities that involve children.
Burns says the CHA concurs with the MDHHS recommendation. She reminds all residents of St. Joseph County and other surrounding counties to be vigilant about protecting yourself and your family members from mosquito bites, especially those who are 15 years old and younger, and anyone aged 50 and older.
If you are going to be outside around dusk remember to apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET; wear long sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors; maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes outside and empty water from mosquito breeding sites.
Due to this situation, several area high schools have changed the times of their football games over the next few days. The White Pigeon at Centreville junior varsity football game game for tonight will start at 5 PM. Also, the Concord at Bronson and Reading at Quincy junior varsity games will start at 5:30 PM. On Friday, the Centreville at White Pigeon, Three Rivers at Sturgis, Mendon at Bloomingdale and Buchanan at Constantine varsity games will all start at 5 PM.