Eastern equine encephalitis confirmed in Michigan

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On September 1, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development confirmed that a 3-year-old St. Joseph County Standardbred filly tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis. She presented from August 23 with ataxia (incoordination), fever and recumbency (down and unable to get up). The unvaccinated filly is now deceased.

EDCC Health Watch is an equine network marketing program that uses information from the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) to create and distribute verified equine disease reports. The EDCC is an independent, not-for-profit organization that is supported by industry donations to provide open access to infectious disease information.

EEE 101

Eastern equine encephalomyelitis is caused by the eastern equine encephalitis virus, of which wild birds are a natural reservoir. Mosquitoes that feed on birds infected with IAS can transmit the virus to humans, horses and other birds. Horses do not develop high enough levels of these viruses in their blood to be contagious to other animals or humans. Due to the high mortality rate in horses and humans, EEE is considered one of the most serious mosquito-borne diseases in the United States.

Here are some tips for preventing mosquito-borne diseases:

  • Avoid mosquito bites: Use insect repellent outdoors, especially from dusk to dawn.
  • Look for EPA-labeled products that contain active ingredients such as DEET, picaridin (KBR3023), or oil of lemon eucalyptus (p-menthane 3,8-diol).
  • Apply more repellent, according to label directions, if mosquitoes start biting.
  • Mosquito-proof homes: Repair or install screens on windows and doors, and cover or eliminate empty containers of standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs.
  • Protect Your Horses: Veterinarians recommend commercially available EEE vaccines approved for all horses in the United States. Horses should be vaccinated at least once a year (recommendations vary in high risk areas). It’s not too late this year to get your horses vaccinated.
  • Use approved insect repellents to protect horses.
  • If possible, place horses in stables, stalls or barns during hours of mosquito exposure, dusk and dawn.
  • Eliminate standing water, empty water troughs and empty buckets at least once a week.
  • Stock water tanks with fish that eat mosquito larvae (contact your local mosquito control for help), or use mosquito “dunks” (solid “doughnuts” of Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis [BTi]which are not toxic to horses) available at hardware stores.
Presented by Boehringer Ingelheim, The Art of the Horse

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