Two SW Michigan horses euthanized; had ‘sleeping sickness’

Posted at 1:39 PM, Sep 29, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-29 13:39:19-04

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) says there are two additional cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in horses in Calhoun and Van Buren Counties.

MDARD says they were notified by the USDA National Veterinary Services Lab in Ames, Iowa of the results on September 22. Both horses had a positive blood test suggesting EEE exposure and had already been euthanized. The horses had not been vaccinated for EEE.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a reportable disease in both people and animals. If there is a suspected case in people, doctors 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.

EEE, also known as horse “sleeping sickness,” is a highly fatal virus that affects the nervous system and is spread among wild birds by mosquitos. Horses, people, birds and a variety of small mammals can contract the disease from a mosquito bite. 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.