(TRENTON) – The illness of a 7-year-old pregnant
mare in Gloucester County has been attributed to infection
with the West Nile virus – the first diagnosis
of West Nile virus in a horse in New Jersey this year,
Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus announced
The horse’s owner reported that the horse became ill on August
10th. A veterinarian took a blood sample, which was submitted to the
New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s animal health laboratory.
The results were positive for West Nile virus.
West Nile virus is a viral disease that affects horses’ neurological
systems. Horses contract the virus when infected mosquitoes bite them.
The disease cannot be spread from horse to horse or from an infected
horse to humans or domestic pets.
In light of last week’s announcement of the first horse in the
state this year infected with Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), another
mosquito-borne infection, Secretary Kuperus cited the importance of owners
vaccinating their animals.
“The most effective preventive treatment for West Nile Virus for horses
is vaccination,” said Secretary Kuperus. “Since 2001, there has been
a vaccine available for West Nile Virus. We strongly recommend that horse owners
have their animals vaccinated against this potentially deadly disease.”
Horse owners should contact their veterinarians for more information
on vaccinations. The Gloucester County horse diagnosed with West Nile
virus had not been vaccinated.
Last year, 150 horses in New Jersey were diagnosed with West Nile virus
infection. Of those, 51 were either euthanized or died.
Nationwide, 24 other states have reported West Nile virus in 210 horses
For more information about West Nile virus in horses, visit the New Jersey
Department of Agriculture web site at www.state.nj.us/agriculture/westnile.htm.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is a rare but serious disease that
causes inflammation of the brain tissue and has a significantly higher
risk of death than West Nile infection.
An effective equine vaccine for EEE has been available for many years.
Horse owners should contact their veterinarians now if their horses are
not already up-to-date on their vaccinations against both EEE and West
Nile virus. It is important to note that the vaccine for West Nile virus
does not protect horses against EEE, or vice versa.
West Nile virus and EEE, like other viral diseases affecting horses’ neurological
systems, must be reported to the state veterinarian at 609-292-3965 within