2 wolf pups at Michigan zoo die of mosquito-borne virus EEE

Posted at 8:14 AM, Sep 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-26 14:05:55-04

(WXYZ) — Two Mexican gray wolf pups at the Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek have died of the mosquito-borne virus Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

The zoo said via Facebook that it received testing results that confirmed the cause of death, and noted that EEE is extremely rare in canines.

Both pups died during the first weekend of September. They were part of a litter born to a breeding pair of Mexican gray wolves at the zoo.

“Although EEE infection in canines is very, very rare, there have been a few cases previously reported in domestic dog puppies. All species considered highly susceptible to EEE infection at the zoo, including domestic and non-domestic equine species and ostriches, are vaccinated on a yearly basis.” said Dr. Kim Thompson, staff veterinarian at Binder Park Zoo, in a press release.

There have been eight cases of EEE confirmed in humans, including three deaths.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the United States, with a 33 percent fatality rate in people who become ill.

Across Michigan, residents can stay healthy by following steps to avoid mosquito bites:

  • Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved product to exposed skin or clothing, and always follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Apply insect repellent to clothing to help prevent bites.
  • Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Empty water from mosquito breeding sites around the home, such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes may lay eggs.
  • Use nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas.

Signs of EEE include the sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint aches which can progress to a severe encephalitis, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures and paralysis. Permanent brain damage, coma and death may also occur in some cases.