Agriculture Secretary Charles
M. Kuperus announced today that the illness of a 16-year-old
gelding in Holmdel, Monmouth County, has been attributed
to infection with the West Nile virus (WNV). This is
the first diagnosis of WNV in a horse in New Jersey
The horse's owner reported that the horse became
ill in mid-July. A veterinarian took a blood sample,
which was submitted to the New Jersey Department
of Agriculture's animal health laboratory. After
the sample tested positive, the Department forwarded
it to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory
in Ames, Iowa, where initial tests identified the
presence of WNV. Final confirmation of the WNV diagnosis
is expected in 7 to 10 days. The horse has fully
WNV is a viral disease that affects horses' neurological
systems. Horses contract WNV when infected mosquitoes
bite them. The disease cannot be spread from horse
to horse or from an infected horse to humans or domestic
pets. Not all horses that contract WNV become ill.
Last year, 30 horses in New Jersey were diagnosed
with WNV infection. Of those, 13 were euthanized
and the remainder recovered.
WNV, like other viral diseases affecting horses'
neurological systems, must be reported to the state
veterinarian at 609-292-3965 within 48 hours. This
information is essential to ensure the initiation
of mosquito control efforts to protect other horses
and humans from the virus.
Nationwide, 14 other states have reported WNV in
horses in 2002. More than 100 horses in the United
States have been confirmed to be infected with WNV
Beginning last year, a conditionally licensed WNV
vaccine for horses has been made available to licensed
veterinarians. The Department of Agriculture recommends
that horse owners have their horses vaccinated. Horse
owners should contact their veterinarians for more
information about vaccination. The Monmouth County
horse diagnosed with WNV had not been vaccinated.
For more information about WNV in horses, visit the
New Jersey Department of Agriculture web site at www.state.nj.us/agriculture/westnile.htm.