By Jessica Mathews /

New cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis or EEE have been confirmed in horses in nearby counties.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development confirmed the discovery of three new cases of EEE in horses from Genesee and Shiawassee Counties. The findings highlight that mosquitoes carrying EEE are still alive and active, and Michiganders still need to take precautions to safeguard their animals and themselves.

EEE is described as a dangerous mosquito-borne disease that’s typically seen in the state from late summer to early fall. Even though it’s October, officials say the mosquitoes that carry EEE will continue to pose a threat until there has been at least one hard freeze where the temperatures fall below 28-degrees Fahrenheit for several hours. Due to this year’s mild fall temperatures, the Department says mosquitoes are continuing to circulate in the environment and spread the virus.

With the addition of these newest cases, Michigan has experienced a total of eight cases of EEE in animals for 2021: one deer from Livingston County and seven horses from Barry, Genesee, Livingston (2), Otsego, and Shiawassee (2) counties. There was also the discovery of one EEE-positive mosquito pool in Barry County.

No human cases of the disease have been identified this year. Overall, while case numbers are down from the total seen in 2020 - 41 animal cases and four human cases - the Department says there is still a need for Michiganders to actively protect their animals and themselves from EEE as they take advantage of the current mild weather conditions and enjoy outdoor activities.

State Veterinarian Nora Wineland said when combatting EEE, the date on the calendar is not as important as the temperatures being experienced. She said the current mild temperatures mean horse owners should not ease up on taking precautions, including vaccination since the mortality rate of EEE in horses can be as high as 90%.

To further protect horses and other domestic animals such as dogs, sheep, and goats from the mosquitoes that carry EEE, owners are encouraged to eliminate standing water on their property, place livestock in a barn under fans from dusk to dawn to avoid peak mosquito activity, use insect repellants that are approved for the species, and contact a veterinarian if an animal displays any sign of illness—fever and stumbling, which can progress to being down and struggling to stand.