TRENTON — A 10 year old Gloucester County gelding is the first reported case in 2015 of West Nile Virus, a viral disease that affects horses’ neurological system. The horse became ill on Sept. 27 and was euthanized on Oct. 3.
“Vaccinated animals are much less likely to contract deadly diseases, such as West Nile Virus,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher. “We urge horse owners to be vigilant in vaccinating their animals against diseases spread by mosquitoes.”
No cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) were reported last year. The disease is transmitted by mosquito bite.
Another risk to horses from mosquitoes is Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), which causes inflammation of the brain tissue and has a significantly higher risk of death in horses than West Nile Virus infection. This year, there has been one case of EEE, in Gloucester County, and in 2014, New Jersey had four cases of EEE.
The viruses cycle between birds and mosquitoes with horses and humans being incidental hosts. WNV and EEE infections in horses are not a significant risk factor for human infection because horses (like humans) are considered to be “dead-end” hosts for the virus.
Effective equine vaccines for WNV and EEE are available commercially. Horse owners should contact their veterinarians if their horses are not already up-to-date on their vaccinations against both WNV and EEE.
For more information about WNV and EEE in horses, visit the New Jersey Department of Agriculture web site at: http://bit.ly/1VE8lsm.