EEE threat grows in Michigan amongst horses

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MARQUETTE, MICH (WJMN) — A mosquito-borne virus known as Triple E that has left 3 people dead in Michigan can also affect many animals like horses.

In 2017, Two Marquette County horses tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis OR Triple E and since then the threat has only gotten worse.

“Triple E is a devastating, fatal disease, neurologic disease in horses,” says Dr. Leah Reid, a veterinarian at the Animal Medical Center.

The virus is only transmitted by a mosquito bite but it is possible for humans to contract the virus as well.

“It’s transmitted by mosquitoes, and a mosquito has to bite the individual for it to get infected. Humans can’t get it from being around horses, and you have to be bitten by an infected mosquito, ” says Dr. Lara Stephens-Brown, a local veterinarian.

Dr. Leah Ried tells me that Triple E is one of the most deadly mosquito-borne viruses in the U.S.

“Horses mean a lot to horse owners both emotionally and physically, so it’s important to protect the horse community as best we can because like I said it’s debilitating and often fatal, ” continues Dr. Reid.

There are vaccines for horses to protect them against EEE and other mosquito-borne diseases.

“For Eastern Equine Encephalitis, they have to have a vaccine and then between 2 and 4 weeks later a booster, and then yearly after that. And if you go longer than a year you are supposed to do a two-week booster again, ” continues Dr. Lara Stephens-Brown.

If a horse isn’t vaccinated and contracts the virus, the outcome can be bad.

Dr. Lara Stephens-Brown says, ” If a horse isn’t vaccinated and they contract the disease, it’s about 90 percent fatal in horses. They get very sick, neurologic, stumbling around, high fevers and they can die. “

Dr. Leah tells me the best way to protect against Triple E is to get your horses vaccinated and protect yourself by avoiding mosquitoes, wearing long sleeves, and having mosquito repellent.

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