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Menominee County horse gets disease

MENOMINEE — Public Health Delta & Menominee Counties was notified on Thursday, October 15, of a horse in Menominee County that had died from Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). The horse became ill on Oct. 3, 2020. This is the first confirmed animal case of EEE in Menominee County this year. No other animal or human cases of EEE have been confirmed in Menominee County at this time, however 35 confirmed cases in horses in 16 Michigan counties have been reported to date. Because conditions are favorable for EEE-carrying mosquitoes during the fall, people should take precautions against mosquito bites.

EEE cannot be spread between animals or between animals and humans, but humans can get EEE through the bite of an infected mosquito. Most (95-96%) cases of human EEE do not cause any symptoms, and less than 1% develop serious illness. However, EEE is potentially serious and symptoms include fever, weakness, and muscle and joint pain. More severe illness can cause swelling of the brain and surrounding tissues. Anyone can be affected by EEE, but persons over age 50 and under age 15 are at greatest risk for developing severe disease.

To protect horses and other domestic animals (such as dogs, sheep, and goats), measures could include the following:  

– Talking to a veterinarian about vaccinating horses against EEE.

– Placing livestock in a barn under fans (as mosquitos are not strong flyers) during peak mosquito activity from dusk to dawn.

– Using an insect repellant on an animal that is approved for the species.

– Eliminating standing water on the property — i.e., fill in puddles, repair eaves, and change the water in buckets and bowls at least once a day.

– Contacting a veterinarian if an animal shows signs of the illness: fever and stumbling, which can progress to being down and struggling to stand.

Although nighttime temperatures are starting to consistently fall below freezing, which should end mosquito season, residents and visitors to the area are reminded to take actions to prevent mosquito bites.

More information about EEE can be found at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services website: https://bit.ly/3lGQC3k.

Additionally, domestic horses can be vaccinated for EEE by a veterinarian. If you see an animal that is exhibiting strange behavior or appears sick, avoid handling or consuming the animal and visit https://secure1.state.mi.us/ORS/Home to report your observation.

For questions regarding sick domestic animals such as horses, livestock, or pets, contact the Michigan Department of Agriculture at 517-373-1077.

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