Michigan horse confirmed with Eastern equine encephalitis

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development State Veterinarian Dr. James Averill has confirmed the first case in 2013 of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in a 12-year-old grade mare from Van Buren County.

The only Michigan case of EEE last year was in an eight-week-old puppy from the same county.

Not vaccinated

“This horse was never vaccinated against EEE and died after she developed severe swelling of the brain, her clinical signs were stumbling, depression, and blindness,” said Averill.

“Horse owners in Michigan’s southwestern counties should be especially aware of the risk and take extra measures to protect their animals.”

Risky area

The highest concentration of the disease has historically been in southwestern Michigan. Since MDARD began tracking the disease in 1980, Barry County has had 27 cases, Calhoun County: 22 cases; Cass County: 46; Kalamazoo County: 44; St. Joseph County: 59; and Van Buren County has had 26 EEE cases.

Mosquitoes carry

EEE is a zoonotic, viral disease, transmitted by mosquitoes to both horses and people, but also other animals.

Other animals include, but are not limited to, birds such as pheasants, emu, ostriches, quail, and ducks, and the disease occasionally occurs in other animals such as reptiles, amphibians, and the puppy last year.

In 2010, statewide there were 56 cases of EEE, and since then the cases have steadily declined, Averill said, “more than likely because Michigan veterinarians encourage EEE vaccinations as part of the spring horse vaccination protocol.”

“Vaccinating at any time against the virus is encouraged, even this late in the year.”

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