A Gloucester County colt had the first reported case this year of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), a serious mosquito-borne illness in horses, in New Jersey.
The state agriculture department is seeking clarification on the infected animal’s vaccination status. The approximately 1-year-old colt was humanely euthanized on Sept. 17. There were no prior reported cases of EEE or West Nile Virus (WNV) in the state this year. The latter is also a mosquito-borne illness that infects horses.
EEE causes inflammation of the brain tissue and has a significantly higher risk of death in horses than the WNV, which affects the neurological system. EEE infections are not a significant risk factor for human infection.
Most regions in the state have a reported mosquito population near the five-year average, according to the agriculture department. The first EEE positive mosquito pool was detected in the county this year, and there are indications that WNV activity is also high.
Livestock owners are encouraged to protect their animals from WNV, EEE and other mosquito-borne diseases with commercially available vaccines. They should also contact a veterinarian if their horses are not up to date with shots.
“We continue to encourage horse owners to be vigilant in vaccinating their animals against these diseases spread by mosquitoes,” New Jersey Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Joseph Atchison III said.
For more information about EEE in horses, visit the New Jersey Department of Agriculture website at: http://www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/ah/diseases/diseaseworksheets.html.
EEE and West Nile virus in horses 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 disease testing and can be reached at (609) 406-6999 or via email at email@example.com. Learn more about the state lab at www.jerseyvetlab.nj.gov.