Eastern Equine Encephalitis confirmed in Montcalm County horse

Residents, horse owners urged to take precautions

Mosquito.
Mosquito.

LANSING, Mich. – Officials have confirmed the second case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) for 2020 in a 12-year-old horse from Montcalm County.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) State Veterinarian, Dr. Nora Wineland, confirmed the case.

EEE is a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes to both animals and people. Horses are highly affected by the disease. Humans can also be infected, and symptoms in humans include sudden onset of fever, chills, and body and joint aches.

EEE can develop into severe enephalitis, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures, and paralysis. Permanent brain damage, coma, and death may also occur in some cases.

“This second confirmed case of EEE in a horse reminds Michiganders of the strong need to take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “It only takes one bite from a mosquito to transmit the virus, which can lead to severe neurologic illness, permanent disability, and sometimes death.”

How to protect your horses, other domestic animals

  • Talking to a veterinarian about vaccinating horses against EEE
  • Placing livestock in a barn under fans (as mosquitos are not strong flyers) during peak mosquito activity from dusk to dawn
  • Using an insect repellent on an animal that is approved for the species
  • Eliminating standing water on the property
  • Contacting a veterinarian if an animal shows signs of the illness: fever and stumbling, which can progress to being down and struggling to stand

Protect yourself, your family

  • Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET to exposed skin or clothing and always follow the manufacturer’s directions for use
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors
  • Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes outside
  • Empty water from mosquito breeding sites around the home, such as buckets, unused children’s pools, old tires, or similar sites where mosquitoes may lay eggs
  • Use nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas

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About the Author:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.