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Protect yourself and horses from EEE

Friday August 27, 2021

A horse in Livingston County has been diagnosed with Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)

Additionally, EEE positive mosquitos have been identified in Barry County. This highlights the need for both horse owners and Michigan residents alike to take safeguards against the disease. The Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health 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 41 cases of EEE in animals and a record of 4 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:

Contact your veterinarian if a horse shows signs of the illness: loss of awareness of their surroundings, walk in circles, exhibit muscle paralysis, stupor, lethargy, and lack of coordination.

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.gov Emerging Diseases page.
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