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First Reported Case of 2010

For Immediate Release: August 26, 2010
Contact: Lynne Richmond            
(609) 633-2954

(TRENTON) – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher today announced a 2-year-old horse from Atlantic County was euthanized after contracting West Nile Virus (WNV).  The mare was not vaccinated against the disease.

“We can not stress enough how important it is to vaccinate horses in New Jersey against West Nile Virus, even though the state has stepped up mosquito control and surveillance to decrease the risk of mosquito-borne illnesses,” said Secretary Fisher.  “We have found that WNV vaccinations protect our horses from this serious disease.”

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.

The two year old mare was humanely euthanized on August 17 after showing signs of WNV earlier that day.  This is the first reported case this year. 

Currently, no cases of another mosquito-borne illness of horses, Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), have been reported in horses in 2010.  EEE is a rare but serious disease that causes inflammation of the brain tissue and has a significantly higher risk of death in horses than West Nile Virus infection.

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  

Effective equine vaccines for WNV 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.

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.