US: Mosquito-borne virus threatens public in Michigan


The US state of Michigan is fighting a deadly virus besides COVID-19, one that afflicts horses and may have infected one person.

The rare and dangerous mosquito-borne virus known as eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) has been confirmed in 22 horses across the state’s 10 counties as of Sept. 15, Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday in a statement.

While there is twice as many animal cases than this time last year, there is one suspected human case in Barry County, it said, adding: "There is an EEE vaccine available for horses, but not for people. Protecting horses with approved EEE vaccines is an important prevention measure."

People can be infected with EEE from one bite of a mosquito carrying the virus, which has a 33% fatality rate in humans, and 90% in horses. People younger than 15 and older than 50 are at a greater risk of a severe disease following the infection, according to the department.

Most of the US' total 38 EEE cases last year were diagnosed in Michigan, where six people died and four others were hospitalized. People across 10 counties in Michigan are strongly urged to cancel or postpone outdoor events taking place at or after dusk to prevent contracting the virus.

Apart from the EEE, the Midwestern state has also had its share of fatalities from the novel coronavirus.

The Wolverine state bordering Canada has seen 6,955 deaths, 3.5% of total nearly 198,000 deaths in the US, from COVID-19 as of Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University data./aa