6th fatality linked to mosquito virus EEE reported in Michigan

Michigan health authorities are reporting a 6th fatality linked to the mosquito virus Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

Berrien County Health Department officials said Monday the victim was one of two people who contracted the mosquito borne virus. The person died on Saturday. Health officials didn't say how long the victims had been sick.

Cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis first appeared in West Michigan at the end of August. The virus has been reported in Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties. The outbreak has resulted in 10 human cases and 46 animal cases.

Of those animal cases were two wolf pups at the Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek. EEE is typically a serious problem for horses, which is why a vaccine was developed if they contract the disease. No vaccine exists for humans.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the risk from the virus continues because there hasn't been a sustained period of freezing temperatures, though health officials in Berrien County said recent cold weather there wiped out the mosquitoes.

He says residents in the affected areas should continue to take precautions against mosquito bites.

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5th Michigan resident dies from mosquito-borne disease EEE

EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the United States, with a 33 percent fatality rate in people who become ill and leaving many survivors with physical and mental disabilities. For kids under 15 years old and adults over the age of 50, the fatality rate can rise as high as 50 percent.

Symptoms exhibited by the disease aren't very obvious. Of the 4 to 5 percent of people who do contract the disease and show symptoms, they include chills, fever, weakness, muscle and joint pain and can last up to two weeks. However, for the 1 percent of people who do show serious symptoms, they include neurologic issues like inflammation of the brain.

Fox 2 reported on this story from Southfield, Mich. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report