NJ.COM -- AUGUST 14, 2012 -- A horse in Salem County has tested positive for West Nile Virus, the first and only reported equine case of the disease in all of New Jersey so far this year, state officials said.
According to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, an 11-year-old quarter horse mare from Salem County tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV) after the animal began showing signs of illness on Aug. 4.
The horse has since been euthanized, officials said.
“We want to remind people to vaccinate their horses against mosquito-borne diseases,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher.
“Horse owners should contact their veterinarians to protect their animals from these preventable diseases.”
State officials said they could not specify which town in the county the case was reported in, as a matter of privacy for the owners of the horse.
WNV is a viral disease that affects horses’ neurological systems when infected mosquitoes bite them. Another dangerous disease which is also spread by mosquitoes is Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), which causes inflammation of the brain tissue and has a significantly higher risk of death in horses than WNV infection.
Neither of the diseases can be spread from horse to horse, or from an infected horse to humans or domestic pets.
“This is a reminder to horse owners to vaccinate their horses with preventive vaccinations,” said Lynne Richmond, public information officer for the Department of Agriculture. “We just want to get word out that if people have horses that are not up to date with their vaccinations, they should go out and get it done.”
In 2011, New Jersey had one case of WNV and one case of equine EEE. One animal was euthanized and the other recovered. The case of EEE was reported in Gloucester County; the case of WNV was reported in Monmouth County, said Richmond.
Both cases came in October after Hurricane Irene and subsequent rains caused flooding that resulted in much higher than normal mosquito populations, state officials said.
For more information about EEE and WNV in horses, visit the New Jersey Department of Agriculture website at www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/ah/diseases
EEE and WNV, like other viral diseases affecting horses’ neurological systems, must be reported to the state veterinarian at 609-671-6400 within 48 hours of diagnosis.
The Department of Agriculture’s Animal Diagnostic Laboratory provides disease testing, as well as necropsies. For more information about its services, visit www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/ah/prog/lab.html.