Health advisory: Safeguards against mosquito-borne virus recommended

Contact: Paula M. Davis

Update, 9/19/19: Insect repellent with DEET is being made available at academic buildings, residence halls, the Sindecuse Health Center, the Student Rec Center and other key areas.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Kalamazoo County and state of Michigan health officials have recommended avoiding outdoor activities after dusk due to local cases of the rare but serious mosquito-borne virus Eastern Equine Encephalitis—EEE.

Sindecuse Health Center experts are being highly vigilant as they watch for concerning symptoms.

Seven human cases of the potentially life-threatening disease have been confirmed in Michigan, with cases in Kalamazoo, Barry, Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties in southwest Michigan. People younger than age 15 and over age 50 are at greatest risk of severe disease following infection.

State health officials recommend applying insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other EPA-approved products, to exposed skin or clothing. For more information on EEE, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s EEE website at

Experts at WMU's Sindecuse Health Center are being highly vigilant as they watch for concerning symptoms. According to the CDC, systemic infection has an abrupt onset and is characterized by chills, fever, malaise, arthralgia, and myalgia. The illness lasts one to two weeks, and recovery is complete when there is no central nervous system involvement.

Anyone from the campus community who has symptoms that are concerning to them are encouraged to make an appointment to review symptoms with a provider as soon as possible.

Steps people should take to protect themselves include:

  •     Avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  •     Wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.
  •     Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET or other EPA- approved product to exposed skin or clothing, always following the manufacturer’s directions for use.
  •     Use nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas.
  •     Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes out of buildings.
  •     Empty water from mosquito breeding sites such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes lay eggs.

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