Michigan Sees Rise in EEE Cases

The number of equine victims of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) in Michigan continues to rise as laboratory tests come back confirming each horse's cause of death. As of Aug. 19 there were 74 reports of the mosquito-borne disease affecting horses in Michigan, with 18 confirmed cases and seven unconfirmed cases for which authorities are still awaiting results. All 74 cases have resulted in death. Two human cases have been reported as well, and those individuals are recovering in hospitals.

An area southwest of Lansing, Mich., is the current hotbed for the EEE activity, with Barry, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, and St. Joseph counties all declaring at least one confirmed equine death. Branch, Eaton, and Jackson counties have reports of suspect cases. Steven Halstead, DVM, MS, Michigan state veterinarian, noted that horses on farms in the surrounding counties could be at substantial risk for contracting the disease if they're not vaccinated.

Michigan joins a growing list of states battling EEE this year, including Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Virginia.

Halstead said he is a little concerned about the current EEE case numbers; while EEE reports generally roll in during mid-August and early-September, these cases arose earlier than usual. "It's not too late to vaccinate," advised Halstead. "Get it done today."

He reminds everyone that even with the slow economy, it's a better investment to vaccinate your horses, rather than having to pay the veterinary fees for treatment. "Vaccines are effective and safe, and they're reasonably inexpensive," he said.

About the Author

Megan Arszman

Megan Arszman received a Bachelor of Science In print journalism and equine science from Murray State University in Murray, Ky., and loves combining her love of horses, photography, and writing. In her “free time,” when she’s not busy working as a horse show secretary or riding her American Quarter Horses on her parents’ Indiana farm, she’s training and competing her Pembroke Welsh Corgi and Swedish Vallhund in dog agility and running.

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