Michigan Officials Report First Case of EEE

Michigan Department of Agriculture officials have identified the state's first case of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) for the 2007 season. A 2-year-old mare from Lapeer County tested positive for EEE at the Michigan State University Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health on Aug. 17.

EEE, or "sleeping sickness," is a mosquito-borne illness found in horses. Horses that develop EEE rarely survive. Both EEE and West Nile virus (WNV) are caused by specific viruses found in wild birds. When mosquitoes feed on birds infected with one of these viruses, the birds can transmit the disease to horses and humans.

"Michigan typically sees an increase in the number of cases of EEE and West Nile Virus this time of year," said Steven Halstead, DVM, state veterinarian. "It's critical that citizens take every precaution to prevent mosquito borne disease exposure, which includes vaccinating their animal against these diseases. Horses are dead-end hosts for West Nile virus and EEE. This means neither disease can be directly transmitted from infected horses to other horses or humans."

Tips for preventing mosquito-borne sickness in horses include:

  • Vaccinate your horses. Inexpensive vaccines for EEE and WNV are readily available. It's not too late to vaccinate your horses.
  • Use approved insect repellants to protect horses.
  • If possible, put horses in stables, stalls, or barns during the prime mosquito exposure hours of dusk and dawn.
  • Eliminate standing water and drain troughs, and empty buckets at least two times a week.

For more information about EEE or WNV in horses, contact the Michigan Department of Agriculture's Animal Industry Division at 517/373-1077, or visit the MDA Web site at www.michigan.gov/mda.  

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