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Health officials in Michigan are reportedly urging people to stay indoors after 10 confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne virus Eastern Equine Encephalitis in 22 horses and one suspected human case. 

Michigan’s health department confirmed 22 horse cases in 10 counties and one suspected human case in Barry County, as of Wednesday, the department said in an announcement.

 

Officials said they will begin aerial treatment Wednesday night in certain high-risk areas of the state to prevent the spread of Eastern Equine Encephalitis. 

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is also urging people in Barry County, as well as Clare, Ionia, Isabella, Jackson, Kent, Mecosta, Montcalm, Newaygo and Oakland Counties, to cancel or postpone outdoor events that take place after dusk to prevent more people from contracting the virus, according to USA Today. 

“MDHHS continues to encourage local officials in the affected counties to consider postponing, rescheduling or canceling outdoor activities occurring at or after dusk, particularly those involving children, to reduce the potential for people to be bitten by mosquitoes," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS, in a statement, according to USA Today. 

Eastern Equine Encephalitis is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the U.S., with a 33 percent fatality rate in people who become ill, according to Michigan’s health department. People younger than age 15 or over 50 are at greatest risk of severe disease following infection, and the risk of bites is highest for people who work and play outdoors in affected areas, according to the department. 

The department said the 22 reported cases in horses is twice as many cases as the same time last year. More than 25 percent of the nation's Eastern Equine Encephalitis cases last year were diagnosed in Michigan, according to the state.

Tags Michigan Animal virology Mosquito-borne disease Mosquito

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Spring Classes at Virginia Community Colleges to Stay Online

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) — Most classes at Virginia’s community colleges will remain online early next year, the system’s head announced months before the spring semester to “minimize the disruptions” for students from COVID-19.

Chancellor Glenn DuBois sent word of the system’s plan to students at the 23 colleges on Friday, The Daily Press of Newport News reported.

“In announcing this decision now, we prioritize your safety, your family’s safety, and that of your community -- all while giving you as much time as possible to plan your spring semester,” DuBois wrote. Staying online is the “safest and most prudent choice” with the continued pandemic and the traditional cold and flu season arriving, he added.

Like the current fall semester, some in-person classes will be held in the spring for short-term career credential and technical programs.

About 72% of community courses during the fall are fully online, according to data presented to a recent state community college system board meeting. Another 14% are on campus, with the rest either online hybrids or those with optional face-to-face components.

The number of people enrolled this year is almost 10% below last year’s totals, or more than 14,000 students, according to data. Much of the decline can be attributed to a drop in the number of high school students who also would be enrolled at community colleges.

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