From 2009 to 2018, the state of Michigan reported seven total human cases of Eastern equine encephalitis, a mosquito-borne virus that can cause brain infections. However, this year, Michigan has already reported seven cases, including three that were fatal.
Infections have also been reported in Connecticut, New Jersey, North Carolina, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
The uptick in this rare disease is a reminder to protect you and your Scouts from mosquitoes, especially during dawn and dusk when the insects are most active. Although Eastern equine encephalitis (or EEE) primarily affects eastern and Gulf Coast states, mosquitoes in other parts of the country can carry dangerous diseases, too, such as West Nile and Zika.
Here are some strategies to prevent mosquito bites and infection:
- If possible, avoid areas known to be home to mosquitoes. Avoid camping downwind from a forest.
- Wear long pants, socks and light-colored long-sleeved shirts. Add a hat, netting or other head covering.
- You can treat your tent and clothing with permethrin. Follow the manufacturer’s directions.
- Use an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin or one of several other active ingredients. The BSA recommends DEET register at a 30 percent concentration and picaridin register at 20 percent.
For more tips and gear recommendations to protect you, see these articles:
- Avoid mosquitoes with these bug-deterring tips and gear
- Tips to help you prevent and treat mosquito bites
- The colorful history of fighting off pesky pests
- Animal and Insect Hazards – Guide to Safe Scouting