Watch out for mosquitos and bed bugs

Several alerts have come out in the past few days worth noting. One relates to a diagnosis of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in two and possibly three horses in southwestern Michigan (Calhoun, Barry and Cass counties) and the other is a general alert to the increasing spread of bed bugs. EEE is a bird virus carried by mosquitos to other animals. Horses are particularly vulnerable to its effects, but humans can be affected as well. For horses AND humans, the best approach is prevention: a simple vaccine is available to protect horses. For humans, the best approach is to reduce the likelihood of encountering a mosquito – eliminate habitats for mosquito larvae (small pockets of stagnant water), keep your windows and doors covered with screens, use clothing and repellant when outdoors in mosquito country. You can find more information on EEE at the Michigan Department of Agriculture website.

 Bed bugs are showing up with greater frequency in commercial lodging facilities as a consequence of “hitchhiking” in luggage and clothing of travelers from parts of the world where they are more prevalent. Again, prevention is the key, and you’ll find valuable guidance at the Michigan Department of Community Health web site. There’s a great resource – the Michigan Manual for the Prevention and Control of Bed Bugs available from the web site. If you like to get creeped out by photos of insects, you’ll definitely want to check out the cover photo of the manual. And I love the title of the first chapter, “Getting to Know the Bed Bug.” Makes you want to curl up in bed and read that one before falling asleep!

 Thanks to Michael Kauffman, Michigan State University Extension specialist in entomology, for being a part of the Michigan Bed Bug Working Group and for keeping us all informed of these serious issues. I know I won’t be chuckling if I wake up with red bite marks on my body some morning.

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