TRENTON — A 12-year-old gelding in Gloucester County is the fifth reported case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), a serious, mosquito-borne illness in horses, in New Jersey for 2018. The horse had not been vaccinated against EEE in 2018 and was euthanized on Sept. 13.
EEE causes inflammation of the brain tissue and has a significantly higher risk of death in horses than West Nile Virus (WNV) infection. WNV and EEE are viral diseases that affects a horse’s neurological system.
The diseases are transmitted by a mosquito bite. EEE infections in horses are not a significant risk factor for human infection because horses (like humans) are “dead-end” hosts for the virus.
With the higher than average number of mosquitos this season, due to the hot and wet weather livestock owners are strongly encouraged to vaccinate against EEE and other mosquito-borne diseases. Effective equine vaccines for EEE and WNV are available commercially.
Horse owners should contact their veterinarians if their horses are not already up-to-date on their vaccinations against both EEE and WNV.
The other four cases in 2018 occurred in August and September and were in Monmouth, Ocean and Camden counties. Each of those horses had to be euthanized as well.
For more information about EEE in horses, visit the New Jersey Department of Agriculture web site at: http://www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/ah/diseases/diseaseworksheets.html
EEE and West Nile virus, like other viral diseases affecting a horse’s neurological system, must be reported to the state veterinarian at 609-671-6400 within 48 hours of diagnosis. The New Jersey Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory is available to assist with EEE and WNV testing and can be reached at 609-406-6999 or via email – firstname.lastname@example.org.