LANSING, MI — Due to heavy rains across the region, tonight’s aerial spraying — slated to occur in 14 lower Michigan counties to combat the fast-spreading Eastern equine encephalitis — has been cancelled in some areas.
Spraying of the Merus 3.0 organic pesticide — which contains 5% pyrethrin — will not occur in the following counties this evening: Allegan, Barry, Branch, Calhoun, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lapeer, Montcalm or Newaygo.
According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, spraying is still on schedule to begin at 8:30 p.m. in portions of Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph counties.
Final determinations have not yet been made on four other treatment zones in Van Buren, Cass and St. Joseph counties. State officials urge residents to check back later and visit www.Michigan.gov/EEE for the most up to date information.
Maps of all treatment areas, broken down by county and zone, are available on the state website.
The mosquito-borne illness has resulted in three human fatalities and 27 animal deaths in lower Michigan, with six other human cases reported in recent weeks.
Amid concerns about the planned treatment, local officials on Friday shared information on an avenue for residents to opt out. Such requests required 48 hours notice, setting an 8 p.m. Friday deadline prior to the planned Sunday evening treatment.
According to MDHHS spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin, 1,200 people provided addresses prior to Friday evening’s deadline, to successfully opt out of the treatment.
Many people have expressed frustration and concerns over a lack of time provided to opt out; however. The state’s announcement came shortly after 12 p.m., Sept. 27 and the deadline to opt out was eight hours later, and according to many, not communicated well or in a timely enough fashion by the state or local municipalities.
Others expressed concerns that the decision-making process did not include an opportunity for the public to weigh in.
It is the first time since 1980 that the state of Michigan has conducted aerial spraying to combat the disease, though individual communities have sprayed since that time, state officials announced at a Friday afternoon press conference.
A total of 720,000 acres are scheduled to be sprayed once the weather lifts. The cost of the spraying is estimated to be between $1.5 and $1.8 million, according to state officials.