Michigan schools raise safety concerns surrounding EEE virus
NEW BUFFALO, Mich. --- An increase in confirmed cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in Southwest Michigan has raised concerns throughout several school districts—now, they are taking action.
Seven cases of the EEE virus have been confirmed to date statewide.
The Berrien County Health Department emphasized that residents take proper precautions to protect themselves on Wednesday.
“At this time, the Berrien County Health Department is not recommending that community groups cancel outdoor evening events, such as sporting events. If practical, groups can consider relocating outdoor events to an indoor space,” according to a statement released by the Berrien County Health Department.
However, the Michigan State Health Department is recommending that schools keep children indoors after dusk and consider cancelling sports and other outdoor activities in the evening.
ABC 57 reached out to 21 school districts throughout Southwest Michigan on Wednesday to see what they are doing to educate and protect students.
New Buffalo High School worked closely with the Berrien County Health Department on Wednesday to release information to parents and take steps forward.
“We’re doing a sweep of the grounds,” said Wayne Butler, Principal of New Buffalo High School. “Make sure that standing waters taking care of where we can, avoid practicing in the woods and so forth, so the cross country team won’t be in the woods running for a while,” explained Butler.
The school is also offering to spray students with EPA approved bug spray with parents’ approval, according to Butler.
For one Michigan mosquito control company, Mosquito Squad, this time of year is usually slow, according to Julie Wuerfel, owner of Mosquito Squad. However, business skyrocketed with 200-300% more calls just this week, according to Wuerfel.
“It’s a scary thing,” said Wuerfel. “Mosquitos carry so many diseases that you have to take the precautions,” said Wuerfel.
Wuerfel recommended community members search around homes and get rid of anything mosquitos could hide in, including tarps and grill covers. Wuerfel also advised people to cover oneself completely before heading out for the evening and spraying bug spray on the outside of clothing.