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Community Health Announcement, re: Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)

Please read the letter below that was distributed to all P-H-M Families and Staff on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019 …

 

Dear Penn-Harris-Madison Families and Staff,

 

As you might be aware, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has now confirmed seven cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in humans. This week the MDHHS also expanded the geographic area affected by the human EEE cases to include the southern Michigan counties of Cass and Van Buren--those closest to St. Joseph County, Indiana. In addition to the human cases in Michigan, there are nine confirmed cases in animals that include the nearest southern Michigan counties of St. Joseph (MI), Cass and Van Buren. Click here for more information from MDHHS.

 

In addition, yesterday (Thurs., Sept. 19)  Elkhart County Health Department (ECHD) renewed their earlier warning after four horses tested positive for EEE in Elkhart County. Click here for more information from the ECHD. Click here for more information from the ECHD.

 

 

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is carried by certain types of mosquitoes. It is a potentially serious disease that can affect anyone, but children under the age of 15 and people over the age of 50 are at greatest risk of severe disease following infection. Although there is a vaccination available for horses, there is not one available for humans. The kind of mosquitoes that spread EEE typically breed in bog and hardwood swamp wetlands. Mosquitoes remain active at temperatures above 60 degrees F and tend to be more active in the evening and pre-dawn hours. Click here for more information on EEE.

 

 

At this time, we are not aware of St. Joseph County (Indiana) releasing a warning, alert or advisory for EEE. However, due to the nature of the disease, and that children and older adults are more susceptible to the disease, we are reaching out to our families and staff to make sure everyone is aware and can start taking precautions at home.

  • When used as directed, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective. Use EPA-registered insect repellents with one of these active ingredients: 

  • ​Apply long lasting insect repellent to your children or yourself before leaving for school/work. Please research and use the product that has the longest effective range; this will provide extra protection for our elementary age children and staff during recess times. 

    • Middle and High School students who have outside, after-school activities are allowed to have non-aerosol insect repellent in the form of lotion or wipes in their backpacks and are encouraged to apply before going outdoors. P-H-M prefers these students only bring non-aerosol products to school in order to prevent getting the products in their eyes.

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Insect repellent can also be applied to the clothing for a longer lasting effect and helps prevent bites. The weather for the week of Sept. 23 is forecasted to be cooler and in the 70s.

  • If you and your family are attending outdoor, after-school activities, please apply insect repellent to your body and to your long-sleeved shirts and pants clothing.

 

At your home, you can take these precautions to help eliminate mosquito breeding sites on your property, thus preventing mosquito bites for you and your family:

  • Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes outside.

  • Empty water from mosquito breeding sites near the home, such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes may lay eggs.

  • Use nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas.

  • Unclog gutters

  • Keep overgrown vegetation mowed

  • Home swimming pools should be maintained clean and operational

  • Ornamental ponds should be aerated to prevent the collection of mosquito larvae

 

Penn-Harris-Madison Facilities Department and Groundskeeping crews will also be extra vigilant in maintaining our school properties and campus areas to minimize these risks for students when they are with us. If you are aware of areas of concern at one of our schools or properties, we encourage you to reach out to your building principal who will notify P-H-M Facilities Department.

 

We appreciate your cooperation as heightened awareness about EEE continues to grow in our area. As we become aware or receive updates from area and state Health Departments, we will pass that information along to our families and staff. We will also post any important updates on the P-H-M District website homepage at phmschools.org. Please also feel free to share that information with us by way of your building principal. 

 

Thank you for your collaboration in helping to keep our students and staff safe.