Michigan reports suspected human case of equine encephalitis illness

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has reported a suspected human case of Eastern equine encephalitis, a rare but dangerous mosquito-borne virus.

There is no vaccine to protect humans from the virus, which has a 33 percent fatality rate in people who become ill. People can be infected with the virus from a mosquito bite, and those younger than 15 and older than 50 are at greatest risk of severe disease.

Symptoms of the disease include fever and joint or muscle pain and may progress to chills, headache and vomiting. Those with severe cases may develop encephalitis (swelling of the brain) or meningitis (swelling of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord).

Typically, an average of 11 human cases of Eastern equine encephalitis are reported annually in the U.S., but last year the number of cases shot up to 38. More than 25 percent of the nation's Eastern equine encephalitis cases last year were diagnosed in Michigan.

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