The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is confirming the first case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis this year from Clare County. The department says that underscores the need for both horse owners and all state residents to take precautions. Triple E is a viral disease, transmitted by mosquitoes to both animals and people. It is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the U.S.  Horses that contract the virus have a 90-percent fatality rate. The death rate for people who contract the encephalitis and become ill from it is 30 percent.

Michigan last year saw high numbers attributed to the virus. There were 10 human cases here and 50 cases of Triple-E in animals. The virus typically shows up in late summer through early fall each year. There have already been a couple of other animal cases this year, marking an early start for the Triple-E season. The bottom line is to protect yourself from mosquito bites. Many of the human cases in Michigan last year were here in SW Michigan. 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, and body and joint aches. EEE infection can develop into severe encephalitis, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures, and paralysis. Permanent brain damage, coma, and death may also occur in some cases.

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