EEEfound in county horses

A mosquito is held up for inspection at a research institute in Portland, Maine, in this 2010 photo.

LANSING — The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Tuesday said three new cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) were found recently, including two cases in Shiawassee County.

The third recent case was in Genesee County.

“These findings highlight the mosquitoes carrying EEE are still alive and active, and Michiganders still need to take precautions to safeguard their animals and themselves,” MDARD officials said in a press release.

EEE is a zoonotic mosquito-borne disease typically seen in the state from late summer to early fall.

“Even though it is now October, the mosquitoes that carry EEE will continue to pose a threat until there has been at least one hard freeze where the temperatures fall below 28 degrees for several hours,” officials said.

With the addition of the new cases, Michigan has confirmed eight cases of EEE in 2021: a deer from Livingston County; and seven horses from Barry, Genesee, Livingston (2), Otsego and Shiawassee (2).

One EEE-positive mosquito pool in Barry County also was located.

No human cases of the disease have been identified this year. Overall, case numbers are down from the total in 2020 (41 animal cases and four human cases).

“When combating EEE, the date on the calendar is not as important as the temperatures being experienced,” said State Veterinarian Nora Wineland. “Our current mild temperatures mean horse owners should not ease up on taking precautions, including vaccination. Since the mortality rate of EEE in horses can be as high as 90%, it is important for owners to work with their veterinarian to ensure their animals are properly vaccinated.”

To further protect horses and other domestic animals (such as dogs, sheep, and goats) from the mosquitoes that carry EEE, owners are encouraged to eliminate standing water on their property, place livestock in a barn under fans from dusk to dawn to avoid peak mosquito activity, use insect repellents that are approved for the species, and contact a veterinarian if an animal displays any sign of illness — fever and stumbling, which can progress to being down and struggling to stand.

“Michiganders need to continue taking precautions against mosquitoes as they take advantage of our current mild weather conditions and enjoy outdoor activities,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, chief medical executive at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “People can also be infected with EEE from the bite of a mosquito carrying the virus, which can lead to serious health impacts and even death.”

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