The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development announced the state’s first reported case in 2015 of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in a Barry County horse.The testing was done by the private practitioner who sent the blood sample directly to the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Lab in Ames, Iowa.
MDARD was notified on September 4 that a Barry County horse had a positive blood test suggesting EEE exposure, and the horse had already been euthanized. This horse had not been vaccinated for EEE.
“EEE and other mosquito-borne illnesses are a huge concern for our equine community,” said Dr. James Averill, MDARD’s State Veterinarian. “Horse owners in Michigan should be aware of the risk and take extra measures to protect their animals.”
Cases of EEE in horses are a sign that people should take steps to guard themselves against mosquitoes by applying repellent, and wearing protective clothing.
For 2015, MDARD is working with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Michigan State University’s Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health on a surveillance program for mosquito-borne viruses in animals. Veterinarians working with horses showing neurological signs are encouraged to contact MDARD at 517-284-5767 for information on assistance with diagnostic testing.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a serious zoonotic viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes. The virus mainly causes disease in horses but can also cause serious illness in poultry, people, and other animals such as deer and even dogs. The disease is not spread through horse-to-horse or horse-to-human contact. In horses, EEE can cause severe swelling of the brain, stumbling, depression and sometimes blindness. There is an effective vaccine for horses and horse owners should work with their veterinarian to determine if their horse needs to be vaccinated.
Mosquito management is vital in the prevention of mosquito-borne illnesses that cause illness in both humans and in horses. People should take steps to guard their animals against mosquitoes by eliminating standing water and bringing horses and pets indoors from early evening until after sunrise when mosquitoes are out in full force.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a reportable disease in both humans and animals. If there is a suspected case in humans, physicians are encouraged to contact their local health department. If you suspect an animal may have EEE, you should report it to MDARD at 800-292-3939, or for after-hours emergencies, 517-373-0440.