So there’s a pandemic across America. Millions of jobs lost, businesses shut down. Depression, anxiety, divorce, alcohol abuse rates all soaring.
Then we heard killer wasps were swarming in from Asia. And now, killer mosquitoes, too?!
Health officials in Michigan are reportedly urging state residents to stay indoors after numerous confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne virus Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) in 22 horses, which has infected at least one human.
“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,” Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) said in a statement.
“People can be infected with EEE from one bite of a mosquito carrying the virus. Persons younger than age 15 and over age 50 are at greatest risk of severe disease following infection. More than 25 percent of the nation’s EEE cases last year were diagnosed in Michigan. The risk of bites is highest for people who work and play outdoors in affected areas,” the department said.
Officials announced that aerial treatment is underway in high-risk areas in at least 10 counties to prevent the spread of Eastern equine encephalitis. The health department also urged people to to cancel or postpone outdoor events that take place at or after dusk.
“MDHHS continues to encourage local officials in the affected counties to consider postponing, rescheduling or canceling outdoor activities occurring at or after dusk, particularly those involving children, to reduce the potential for people to be bitten by mosquitoes,” said Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at the MDHHS, in a statement, according to USA Today.
“This suspected EEE case in a Michigan resident shows this is an ongoing threat to the health and safety of Michiganders and calls for continued actions to prevent exposure, including aerial treatment,” Khaldun said.
EEE infected 38 people in the U.S. last year, the highest rate since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (DCD) began tracking cases. “Signs of EEE infection include sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint aches which can progress to a severe encephalitis, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures and paralysis,” USA Today wrote.
In May, a couple months after COVID-19 began seeping across the U.S., reports emerged saying killer hornets from Asia had arrived in Washington state. The hornets kill upwards of 50 people in China and Japan each year, and they also attack honeybees, which pollinate the fruits and vegetables we eat.
Scientists expressed fear that the hornets, like the stink bugs that emerged in the U.S. several years ago, would soon spread across the nation.
In a 2006 paper on the insects, a team of Japanese doctors said the hornets are deadly to humans.
“In Japan, fatalities due to Vespa mandarinia (wasp) stings are estimated to range from 30 to 50 persons each year. Most victims appear to die from anaphylaxis or sudden cardiac arrest,” the doctors wrote, “while some of them die from to multiple organ failure including rhabdomyolysis, renal failure, liver dysfunction, respiratory failure, and disseminated intravascular coagulopathy.”
Those who died were stung an average of 59 times, while those who survived suffered around 28 stings, the doctors found.