Kalamazoo citizens have been on alert over the past few weeks due to reports of a death in the area from the virus Eastern equine encephalitis virus. EEE is a mosquito-borne virus that has 8 documented cases in Michigan so far this year, killing three people thus far, one being in Kalamazoo county.
Kalamazoo County was scheduled to be sprayed with insecticide on the evening of Sunday, Sept. 29 to combat the local mosquito population. State officials stated that the insecticide is safe for humans, but many residents, including Mayor Bobby Hopewell, opposed the spray citing concerns over its potential effects on natural areas and city water infrastructure. The spraying was delayed due to the weekend’s rain, and will be rescheduled once the weather lifts.
With such a deadly disease, however rare, being spread, WMU students look to administrators and health officials to see what they can do to prevent catching the virus.
“We are taking this matter with the seriousness and attention that we know it deserves. We are working in concert with our local health department, and at this time recommendations are to limit your time outside from dusk until dawn, use repellent containing DEET, wear protective clothing, and remove any standing water where mosquitoes may breed,” said Dr. Gayle Ruggiero, medical director at Sindecuse Health Center.
The individuals who are most at risk are those under 14 and those over 50, or ones with existing medical conditions. Most individuals that become infected will not develop any symptoms and others may have chills, fever, weakness, as well as muscle and joint pains. This illness may last up to two weeks but complete resolution of fatigue and weakness may take months, according to Ruggiero.
“Most individuals that become infected will not develop any symptoms and others may have chills, fever, weakness, as well as muscle and joint pains. This illness may last up to two weeks but complete resolution of fatigue and weakness may take months,” Ruggiero said.
WMU has been offering bug repellent containing DEET for students to use at residence hall desks as well as in locations across the academic buildings on campus.
WMU is also working to make sure that students are well informed on the issue, WMU public safety sent out a tweet as well as a WMU alert warning students about the risk.
According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan is at risk until the first hard frost of the year.
“Sindecuse health providers are aware of the risk and are receiving updates from local health officials. We encourage anyone experiencing these symptoms to seek medical care,” Ruggiero said.
Further information about EEE can be found at the Centers for Disease Control.