INDIANAPOLIS (WANE / WOOD) – Residents of Indiana and Michigan are facing another disease epidemic that could force them into their homes.
The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) is urging residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites following reports of a probable human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).
In Michigan, a woman told WOOD that a test conducted by the Mayo Clinic had already found her husband had EEE. If confirmed, it will be Michigan’s first human case EEE in 2020.
The EEE virus – most commonly found in horses – can cause serious illness and has a mortality rate of approximately 33% or higher in humans.
“Eastern equine encephalitis virus disease is rare in humans, but it can cause permanent complications and even death,”
Symptoms of the EEE virus include chills, fever, body aches, and joint pains. Some people develop a more severe form of the disease that affects the nervous system and causes encephalitis or inflammation of the brain.
In Michigan, Tina Wescott said her husband, Jeff Wescott, suffered from severe headaches, which later turned into speech difficulties.
“He went from being a healthy adult a week and over a span of 10 days … he couldn’t even walk unaided. He was so weak. It really wiped him out completely. He’s lucky to be alive,” she said. Tina Wescott.
He wants the community to know how serious the virus can be.
“It’s really bad. I didn’t think he was going to make it. I didn’t really think he was going to make it that first night. I saw things I never wanted to see again. It was horrible … I was just struggling to breathe,” he ha said Wescott.
The family is encouraged by progress but knows there are many challenges ahead.
The rare mosquito-borne disease has already occurred infected and killed 22 horses in Michigan this year. EEE is almost always fatal to horses, but they can be vaccinated. There is no vaccine for humans.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is conduct night air sprays kill mosquitoes in 10 counties where animal cases have been confirmed,
According to Indiana health officials, people under the age of 15 and over 50 are at greater risk of serious illness if infected with the EEE virus. People who think they have the EEE virus should visit a healthcare provider.
Health officials are reminding people to wear insect repellent with DEET, wear long pants and sleeves when outdoors, and stay indoors during mosquito rush hours whenever possible. You should also clear stagnant water from your property where mosquitoes could be deposited and make sure the mosquito nets are in good condition to keep them away from your home.
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