18 cases of EEE in horses in Michigan so far this year

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Health officials say there were five more confirmed cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in horses over the Labor Day weekend, bringing this year’s total to 18 cases.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said the number of confirmed cases in horses this year is more than double the number of confirmed cases this time in 2019, which was eight cases.

On Wednesday, MDARD said cases have been confirmed in eight counties: Barry (1), Clare (5), Isabella (1), Kent (1), Mecosta (1), Montcalm (6), Newaygo (2) and Oakland (1).

EEE, a rare mosquito-borne illness, kills about a third of people who develop symptoms and about 90% of horses that develop the illness. Horses can be vaccinated, but there is no vaccine for people.

In 2019, 10 people in Michigan contracted EEE and six of them died, all in the southwestern region of the state.

Horse owners are reminded to vaccinate the animals and keep them in the barn during peak mosquito hours. People should use mosquito repellent with DEET and wear long pants and shirts while outdoors to prevent bites.

The threat of infection will remain until a hard freeze kills mosquitoes.