BRISTOL — With mosquitos not going anywhere any time soon and the eastern equine encephalitis virus running rampant, the town of Bristol has decided to do what it can to protect its residents from the deadly virus.
Four horses within the Bristol ZIP code have died from EEE this fall, town officials confirmed. More equine deaths are being investigated, and a man in Cass County, Michigan, is reported to have died from the virus this fall.
Bristol Town Manager Mitch Mitchell told the Bristol Town Council on Thursday night that he contacted the Elkhart County Health Department for recommendations on how to best protect residents, as he was confirming another aerial mosquito spray dusting this fall. But he said he was told another spraying would have little impact on protecting the population as the rest of the county is not protected.
“The best way to prevent the infection is obviously to prevent being bitten,” Mitchell said.
EEE is a rare virus that causes brain infection and encephalitis, or swelling of the brain. Fewer than a dozen cases per year of the virus are reported, however five have already been reported in Michigan this season. Approximately 30 percent of those who contract the virus die due to complications, and many survivors have ongoing neurological complications.
“There is no certainty at all that a final spray application would prevent someone in our town from being bitten by a mosquito that comes from outside our boundaries,” Mitchell said.
To help with the problem, the council agreed to authorize Mitchell to spend up to $500 on mosquito repelling products for residents.
It’s far less than the $4,000 it costs to spray the entire town, and a more effective solution, Mitchell hopes.
“This is probably the best we can do to help our residents,” he added.
The exact products he’ll acquire haven’t yet been decided, but Mitchell is considering single-use aerosol cans, wristbands, wipes and more to keep the mosquitos away from Bristol residents.
Other items discussed at the council meeting include:
n Ameri-Kart Corp. is seeking a tax abatement from the town of Bristol. Currently located in at 17196 S.R. 120, and a location in Ohio and one in Michigan, the company has decided to consolidate to a new location at the town’s industrial park.
With 164 employees at its current location just outside of town, Ameri-Kart will agree to add 108 new employees at a median of $19.66 per hour. The Elkhart County Economic Development Corp. recommended a three-year abatement.
n The Bristol Town Council is encouraging residents to participate in the 2020 census. They’re also hoping to get volunteers from the public to serve as toll takers. Councilperson Burke told those in attendance that many government-funded programs including free school lunches are impacted by census information. Residents can contact Bristol Town Hall for more information on volunteering.
n Following this year’s wet season, Hermance Park will be evaluated by Lehman & Lehman, a landscape architecture firm out of Mishawaka. The park board is concerning moving the playground equipment located there to another park and reinventing Hermance Park as a wetlands or bird sanctuary.