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Environment

Jackson County Health Department On Lookout For Mosquito-Borne Diseases

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Mosquitoes are out in full force this summer, which also means a risk of mosquito-borne illnesses.

The Jackson County Health Department is monitoring the bugs by trapping them, in order to keep a lookout for the Zika virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus (EEE).

Two different types of traps are being set. One for Zika-bearing mosquitoes, and another for mosquitoes that can carry EEE. Department Environmental Health Division Director Don Hayduk says either virus only has one or a few types of mosquitoes that can host it.

“They look at these mosquitoes through a microscope and they start sorting them according to genus and species, and through the microscope, you can see the distinguishing features that separate the species,” he said.

Hayduk adds that they haven’t found mosquitoes carrying either disease yet.

“We go out, we set traps in appropriate environments, we collect the mosquitoes, we sort the mosquitoes searching for the ones that we’re looking for.”

Zika infections generally lead to mild symptoms, but the virus is of particular concern to those who are pregnant. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Zika infections during pregnancy can lead to severe birth defects.

Though rare, the EEE virus can lead to brain infections. According to the CDC, about 30% of people infected with EEE die.

Michigan health officials advise following these steps to avoid contracting a mosquito-borne illness:

  • Apply an insect repellent containing DEET or another EPA-approved repellent to exposed skin and clothing.
  • Wear loose-fitting and covering clothing such as long sleeves and pants while outdoors.
  • Repair any holes in door or window screens to prevent mosquitoes from getting inside.
  • Once a week, empty or change any standing water in buckets, bird baths, kiddie pools and more.
  • Avoid the early morning and early evening hours when mosquitoes are most active. 
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