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Ocean County Horse Euthanized
For Immediate Release: October 5, 2007
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(609) 633-2954

(TRENTON) – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus today announced the state’s first equine case of West Nile Virus for 2007 has occurred in Ocean County.

A 21 year old non-pregnant mare was euthanized on September 27 after becoming ill on September 26.  The horse was not vaccinated for the mosquito-borne infection. 

Secretary Kuperus said even though we are seeing less and less cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) and another mosquito-borne infection, Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) every year, owners still need to be diligent in vaccinating their animals.

“With the state’s stepped up efforts to eliminate mosquito breeding areas and more public awareness of the benefits of vaccinating, we have seen a decrease in equine WNV and EEE cases in recent years, and we urge owners to continue to guard their animals from these potentially deadly diseases,” said Secretary Kuperus. 

There was one case of West Nile Virus in horses and one case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in horses last year.  In 2005, there were no cases of WNV in horses and four cases of EEE.  That compares with 2003, when there were 150 cases of WNV and eight cases of EEE.

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.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis 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.

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

Effective equine vaccines for West Nile virus and EEE 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.

Horses should be vaccinated for both EEE and WNV annually, since the vaccine for West Nile virus does not protect horses against EEE and vice-versa.  The threat of contracting the diseases continues as long as mosquitoes are active – at least through November -- so it is not too late to have animals vaccinated.

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.