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First EEE Case Confirmed in Michigan

Monday August 17, 2020

The first 2020 case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) was diagnosed in a horse in Clare County.

This highlights the need for both horse owners and Michigan residents alike to take safeguards against the disease.The Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph CommunityHealth Agency offers the following information in regards to prevention.

EEE is a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes to both animals and people. EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the U.S., with a 90-percent fatality rate among horses that become ill and a 33-percent fatality rate among humans who become ill. Last year, Michigan experienced 50 cases of EEE in animals and a record of 10 cases in humans.

People can be infected with EEE from the bite of a mosquito carrying the virus. The disease is not spread by horse-to-horse or horse-to-human contact. In humans, signs of EEE include the sudden onset of fever, chills, and body and joint aches. EEE infection can develop into severe encephalitis, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures, and paralysis. Permanent brain damage, coma, and death may also occur in some cases.

“We are reminding residents to take precautions to protect themselves and their horses from mosquito bites. It only takes one bite from a mosquito to transmit the virus.” Says Paul Andriacchi, Director of Environmental Health at the Community Health Agency, “Vaccination of horses can prevent EEE and West Nile Virus which are both mosquito-borne diseases.”

To protect your animals:

To protect yourself and your family:

Overall, mosquito-borne illnesses, like EEE, will continue to pose a risk to both animals and humans until late fall when nighttime temperatures consistently fall below freezing. For more information about how to protect yourself from EEE and other mosquito transmitted diseases, visit the Michigan Emerging Diseases site. 

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