By Jessica Mathews /

State officials say cases of one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the United States are on the rise.

With the recent discovery of five additional cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in equids, a mammal of the horse family, over the Labor Day weekend, the number of confirmed cases for 2020 is more than double the number cases found by this time last year. Officials say the rise in cases intensifies the need for horse owners to vaccinate their animals and for Michigan residents to take precautions. In 2019, Michigan experienced one of the worst outbreaks of EEE ever documented in the state with 10 human cases—including 6 deaths—and 50 cases in animals from 20 counties.

Michigan Department of Health & Human Services Spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin tells WHMI they’ve seen 19 cases in horses, although none in humans. She says there have been EEE cases in the past in Livingston County but none this year. Sutfin says they encourage people to continue being outdoors but safety precautions to try and prevent getting mosquito bites. For horse owners, Sutfin says there is a vaccine. She says owners can also talk to their veterinarians or take other safety precautions such as using fans in barns as mosquitoes aren’t strong flyers and that will keep them away.

This year, cases have been discovered in eight counties: Barry (1), Clare (5), Isabella (1), Kent (1), Mecosta (1), Montcalm (6), Newaygo (2), and Oakland (1).

More information is included in the attached press releases.