LANSING—Following the death of a horse in Southwestern Michigan that had contracted Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), Sen. John Proos is urging area residents and horse owners to protect themselves and their animals from the deadly disease.
“There is no cure for equine encephalitis, so protection is the best course of action,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Vaccinating horses for EEE has helped drastically and steadily reduce the number of Michigan cases from 56 in 2010 to only one in 2012. This is the first reported case this year, and I encourage horse owners to take the steps to help ensure it is the year’s only case.”
Southwestern Michigan has historically had the highest concentration of EEE. Since the state started tracking the disease more than 30 years ago, St. Joseph County has had 59 cases, Van Buren County has had 26, and Cass County has reported 46 cases.
EEE is an infectious, often fatal disease of horses, humans, and pigs. The viral disease is transmitted by mosquitoes, usually after feeding on an infected bird.
“Alarmingly, EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the U.S. with a human fatality rate of 33 percent, and survivors often have lasting brain damage,” Proos said. “In the face of this latest case, I am also urging Southwest Michigan residents to take precautions against mosquito bites. You can reduce your risk by using insect repellants, wearing protective clothing, and keeping tight screens on windows, doors, and porches.”
For more information on the human health impact of EEE, residents can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s EEE website at www.cdc.gov/EasternEquineEncephalitis.
Editor’s Note – Audio comments by Sen. Proos are available on the senator’s website at www.SenatorJohnProos.com. Click on “Podcasts.”