Emerging Infectious diseases that may be transmitted between animals and humans are a concern for all people, no matter what their age, gender, lifestyle, ethnic background, or economic status. The Michigan Department of Community Health has a web site devoted to these types of diseases including; Mad Cow, West Nile virus, Lyme Disease, Rabies and other diseases that are spread from animals to people.
West Nile Virus
West Nile first began appearing in the U.S. in 1999 and has now spread westward to the Pacific Ocean. It has been detected in several Canadian Provinces and suspected in Mexico as well. WNV was first detected in Michigan in 2001 and has been detected in Michigan every subsequent year after.
Lyme disease has now been reported in at least 47 states, mainly in the northeast and north-central states. It is a bacterial infection transmitted by ticks.
Zika virus is spread through mosquitoes, particularly Aedes species mosquitoes. It can also be spread mother-to-baby during pregnancy or through unprotected sexual contact. Beginning in 2015 a large outbreak of Zika virus occurred in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. The CDC still recommends that pregnant women, or couples that are planning for pregnancy avoid travel to areas with ongoing Zika activity. The majority of people infected with Zika develop mild symptoms, or none at all. However, when Zika virus is passed from a pregnant mother to her unborn baby, sever brain defects, including microcephaly and other nervous system defects can occur. Preventing mosquito bites and protective sexual practices are the most important ways to reduce infection or risk of pregnancy complications.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus(EEE)
EEE is spread to people and equines(horses)by the bite of an infected mosquito. Only a few cases are reported in the state of Michigan each year. Although rare in humans, EEE is very serious. Approximately 30% of people with EEE die and many survivors have ongoing neurological problems. Approximately one third of horses with EEE die, with survivors potentially suffering from permanent neurological deficits. A person or horse infected with EEE cannot spread the disease, only the bite of an infected mosquito transmits EEE. There are no vaccines to prevent or medicines to treat EEE in humans. Horses should be vaccinated with two doses 4-6 weeks apart and an annual booster, consult your Veterinarian for more information. You can reduce your risk of infection with EEE virus by using insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and taking steps to control mosquitoes indoors and outdoors.