You have a tight mask game. You avoid crowds, indoors and out. You just got your flu shot. So you're feeling good about meeting two or three similarly cautious friends for a socially distanced backyard gathering?
Don't. Not to harsh your carefully maintained mellow, but until the first frost kills the mosquitoes, you have one more thing to worry about: Eastern equine encephalitis-carrying mosquitoes, recently identified in Michigan.
State health officials announced Tuesday that an adult from Barry County is the first suspected human case of Triple E this year. Lab tests to confirm the case are under way and are expected to be completed later this week.
So far in 2020, the virus also has been confirmed in 22 horses from 10 counties in Michigan, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. The counties with cases in horses are: Barry, Clare, Ionia, Isabella, Jackson, Kent, Mecosta, Montcalm, Newaygo and Oakland.
And is there more bad news? Do you even need to ask?
Eastern equine encephalitis is one of the deadliest mosquito-borne viruses in the United States. It kills 33% of people who become sickened by it. And it leaves many survivors with physical and mental disabilities.
Is there a vaccine? For horses, yes. For humans? No. The only defense for two-legged animals appears to be avoidance and our old friend, chemistry. The state reports that "aerial treatment" -- we're assuming that means fogging -- started last night in affected counties, including Oakland.
In the meantime, be advised that mosquitoes are most active around dusk. Also, that not everyone who gets EEE will be disabled by it; mild cases happen, too. But also-also: Of the 38 Americans who got EEE last year, 10 were in Michigan.