SECOND NEW JERSEY HORSE CONTRACTS EASTERN EQUINE ENCEPHALITIS

August 30, 2018

A 12-year-old Camden County gelding is the second reported case in New Jersey in 2018 of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), a serious, mosquito-borne illness in horses. The horse had not been vaccinated against EEE and was euthanized on August 27.

“With this being our second case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis reported in the last two weeks, we are reminding horse owners of the high importance of having their animals vaccinated against diseases spread by mosquitoes,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher. “Vaccinated animals are much less likely to contract deadly diseases such as EEE and West Nile Virus.”

The first case of EEE in New Jersey in 2018 was reported in a Monmouth County mare last week.

EEE causes inflammation of the brain tissue and has a significantly higher risk of death in horses than West Nile Virus infection. West Nile virus is a viral disease that affects horses’ neurological system. The disease is transmitted by mosquito bite. The virus cycles between birds and mosquitoes with horses and humans being incidental hosts. EEE infections in horses are not a significant risk factor for human infection because horses (like humans) are “dead-end” hosts for the virus.

Effective equine vaccines for EEE and WNV are available commercially. Horse owners should contact their veterinarians if their horses are not already up-to-date on their vaccinations against both EEE and WNV.

For more information about EEE in horses, visit the New Jersey Department of Agriculture web site at:
http://www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/ah/diseases/diseaseworksheets.html

EEE and West Nile virus, like other viral diseases affecting horses’ neurological system, must be reported to the state veterinarian at 609-671-6400 within 48 hours of diagnosis. The New Jersey Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory is available to assist with EEE and WNV testing and can be reached at 609-406-6999 or via email – jerseyvetlab@ag.nj.gov.

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