Vector Borne Diseases


Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is a mosquito-borne viral infection that can affect both horses and humans.  The health concern with EEE is that it often leads to acute encephalitis (swelling of the brain), which can be fatal.  The case fatality rate is especially high in children.  Survival from encephalitis can often lead to permanent mental and/or physical disorders.

EEE is passed on from one host carrier to another through a mosquito bite.  The main host carriers are birds, horses, and humans, with horses and humans being the dead end host.  Human cases involving encephalitis often begin with the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting. The illness may then progress into disorientation, seizures, or coma.

Due to the public health concerns associated EEE, both the Michigan Department of Community Health and the Local County Health Department where a EEE case is suspected to have come from, will issue a public health alert along with education on what signs to look for with the infection, as well as how to minimize the threat.

For more information on EEE please visit the following websites:

The Michigan Department of Community Health


The National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


West Nile Virus (WNV) is a mosquito borne virus that can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or Meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord). The virus first appeared in the United States in 1999 in New York City. It has since made its way westward and now is found in virtually the entire country.
The virus is transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitoes. WNV is not transmitted by person to person contact such as kissing, touching or caring for someone who is infected.
The serious form of the disease is extremely rare. People over 50, young children and those with weakened immune systems are more at risk than others.

Most people who are infected with WNV will not develop any symptoms. A small minority of people may become ill 3 to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The symptoms may include fever, headache, body aches, and sometimes skin rash and / or swollen glands.

In rare occasions, WNV infection may result in encephalitis. Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain that may be marked by headache, high fever, stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis. A small number of cases have been fatal.

  1. Prevention is best done by minimizing exposure to mosquitoes.
  2. Eliminate areas of standing, stagnant water.
  3. Install and maintain screens on windows and doors.
  4. Consider minimizing the amount of time you spend outdoors from dusk to dawn.
  5. If you are going to be outdoors during peak mosquito times, wear protective clothing such as long pants and long sleeve shirts.
  6. Spray exposed skin and clothing with repellents containing DEET or permethrin (always read and follow label directions)

The testing of dead or dying birds is no longer necessary due to West Nile Virus being present in Michigan.

Dead birds can be safely disposed of by either burying them or placing them in the garbage using a shovel, gloved hand or by turning a plastic bag inside out, grasping the bird and then turning the bag back right side out with the bird inside.

To report a dead bird, visit the Michigan Department of Community Health website. 


Lyme disease is an illness caused by a spirochete bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. It is transmitted to people and animals by the bite of an infected Black Legged Deer Tick.

Click here to see a tick identification chart.

Early symptoms: 

  • Chills 
  • Fever 
  • Headaches 
  • Muscle and joint pain 
  • Characteristic skin rash

Late symptoms:

  • Arthritis (usually one or more large joint, especially the knees) 
  • Nervous system abnormalities that can include nerve paralysis (facial muscles) and meningitis 
  • Rarely, irregularities of the heart rhythm may occur.
Patients and domestic animals treated in the early stages of Lyme disease with a course of antibiotics usually recover rapidly and completely. If improperly diagnosed, or untreated, the disease can cause long-term health problems.
  • Wear enclosed shoes and light colored clothing, which makes ticks easier to locate for removal. 
  • Tuck pants into socks and wear long sleeved shirts 
  • Apply insect/tick repellant containing DEET, and treat clothes with permethrin. Be sure to follow product label for proper use. 
  • Walk in the center if trails to avoid contact with overgrown grass and brush at trail edges. 
  • Upon returning from potentially tick-infested areas, search your entire body for ticks. 

Ticks can attach to any part of the human body, but prefer body creases and areas with hair, such as the groin, armpits, sock line and scalp.

  1. Using fine-tipped tweezers, grasp the tick by the head as close to the skin as possible then gently, but firmly, pull the tick straight out. Do not: twist or jerk the tick, apply petroleum jelly, a hot match, or other irritant. This can lead to infection because the tick’s mouth parts may remain embedded, or you may be burned. Use your fingernails and tissue paper if tweezers are not available.

  2. Immediately wash the bite area and your hands with soap and water then apply an antiseptic to the bite wound.
  3. If in doubt of tick identification, place the tick in a small vial containing a damp piece of tissue and submit it to the Barry-Eaton District Health Department for examination.

If you have collected a tick from and animal or source other than a human, and would like to have it identified as to whether or not it is a Blacklegged tick which can carry Lyme disease, then the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) will do so free of charge.  Ticks submitted in pieces may be impossible to positively identify as to the particular species.

If the tick was collected from a human host, and you would like to have it tested for Lyme disease, then the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) will do so for free.  MDCH will only test Blacklegged ticks that are known carriers of Lyme disease.

The third option is to submit the tick to the Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health (DCPAH) at Michigan State University.  Please be aware that the DCPAH does charge a fee for both tick identification and testing.

Click here for tick submittal guidance chart.

For additional information on vector borne diseases, please visit the following websites: 

Michigan Department of Community Health 

National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention