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Health emergency declared in Elkhart County against mosquito-borne virus

Published: Sep. 18, 2020 at 5:18 PM EDT
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ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) - Elkhart County declared a health emergency in order to reduce the spread of Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or EEE virus.

According to our reporting partners at The Goshen News, declaring the health emergency allows officials to start spraying a portion of the county to kill the mosquitoes.

The emergency was declared Friday, and a quickly-arranged meeting took place with members of the county health department and the Emergency Management Agency.

The Indiana State Department of Health also notified Elkhart, LaGrange, Kosciusko, Noble, Marshall and LaPorte counties about a need to spray for mosquitoes.

The plan calls for spraying to begin on Sept. 22 in the northeast corner of the county around dusk. This is according to Karla Kreczmer, the local health department’s environmental health manager.

In the case of inclement weather, spaying will be done Wednesday evening.

Multiple cases of EEE in horses, and some in humans, is what’s driving the decision to spray.

As of Tuesday, EEE appeared in “two horses in LaGrange County and one in Kosciusko County, as well as one person, as a probable case, in LaPorte County,” according to The Goshen News.

Elkhart County has not reported any cases so far.

EEE is considered rare in people but lethal. According to Kreczmer, the death rate among humans is about 33%, and about 90% for horses.

According to the county’s emergency declaration, EEE is “a serious and deadly disease."

The emergency declaration includes mosquito bite-prevention tips, such as:

• Avoiding mosquito-breeding areas;

• Staying indoors during hours when mosquitoes are active;

• Using bug sprays and repellents;

• Wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants when in areas where mosquitoes are active;

• Emptying containers of standing waters, unclogging gutters, mowing overgrown vegetation, and maintaining screened doors and windows.

The tips were also put in the declaration because the spraying is only being done in a certain portion of the county.

The emergency declaration will expire next Friday, unless county leaders decide to extend it.

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