The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services notified the Kent County Health Department it will conduct aerial spraying in high-risk areas in 10 counties throughout the state to combat further spread of the deadly disease Eastern equine encephalitis.
Northern Kent County and the Sand Lake area are included in this treatment area.
Aerial spraying is conducted by low-flying aircraft and scheduled to take place starting Wednesday night. The ability to spray is weather dependent and the schedule may change.
The Michigan Department of Agricultural and Rural Development also issued an emergency rule temporarily amending the rule on notification and participation for community pesticide applications for aerial spraying treatment across affected counties, meaning mosquito control treatment is required for all properties in the identified areas and property owners cannot opt out of the treatment.
To date, no human cases of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) have been reported in Michigan or Kent County, but EEE has been identified in one animal in Kent County.
The MDHHS is encouraging local officials in Kent County to consider postponing, rescheduling or canceling outdoor activities occurring at or after dusk, particularly activities that involve children. This includes events such as late evening outdoor sports practices, games or music practices. The MDHHS recommendation is being made from an abundance of caution to protect the public health and applies until the first hard frost of the year.
Symptoms of EEE include fever, chills, body and joint ache, which can progress to encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Anyone experiencing these symptoms should contact their medical provider. There is no human vaccine for EEE.
Since mosquitoes will continue to be active for the foreseeable future in West Michigan, the health department is asking residents to be aware of these mosquito-borne illnesses and act accordingly.