The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has notified the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency that as of Aug. 21, two unvaccinated horses in St. Joseph County have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis and both have died.
EEE is an infectious and often fatal disease of horses, humans and pigs. It is transmitted by mosquito vectors. When levels of the circulating virus are high, mammals can become infected when bitten by a mosquito that has fed on an infected bird.
A horse infected with EEE may exhibit behavior that includes loss of awareness of its surroundings, walking in circles, exhibiting muscle paralysis, stupor, lethargy and incoordination.
People can be infected with EEE from the bite of a mosquito carrying the virus. The disease is not spread by horse-to-horse or horse-to-human contact. In humans, signs of EEE include the sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint aches.