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First Reported Case of 2010

For Immediate Release: October 20, 2010
Contact: Lynne Richmond            
(609) 633-2954

(TRENTON) – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher today announced a 2-year-old horse from Monmouth County was euthanized on October 6 after contracting Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), a rare, but serious, mosquito-borne illness in horses. 

“The equine industry plays an important role in this state’s economy and it’s important to protect them from diseases spread by mosquitoes,” said Secretary Fisher.  “Horse owners should contact their veterinarians to have their animals vaccinated against these illnesses.”

The Monmouth County mare had not been vaccinated against EEE.  Effective equine vaccines for EEE and another mosquito-borne disease, West Nile Virus (WNV), have been available for several 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.

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 systems. Horses contract the virus when infected mosquitoes bite them. The diseases cannot be spread from horse to horse or from an infected horse to humans or domestic pets.

While the EEE case is the first of 2010, there have been two reported cases of WNV this year – a 2-year-old mare from Atlantic County and a 22-year-old gelding from Gloucester County.  Both were humanely euthanized and neither was vaccinated for the disease.

In 2009, New Jersey had one case of equine WNV, six horses tested positive for EEE and three animals were presumptive positive for EEE.  In 2008, there were no equine cases of either disease. 

For more information about EEE and West Nile Virus in horses, visit the New Jersey Department of Agriculture web site at  

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 48 hours.