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First Reported Case of 2011

For Immediate Release: October 12, 2011
Contact: Lynne Richmond            
(609) 633-2954

(TRENTON) – An 11-year-old mare from Monmouth County has tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV), according to New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher. The mare was not vaccinated against the disease.

“We urge horse owners to vaccinate their animals from serious mosquito-borne illnesses such as West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis,” said Secretary Fisher.  “We have found that animals that are vaccinated are less likely to contract these deadly diseases.”

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection reports that the exceedingly high levels of precipitation experienced statewide due to Hurricane Irene and subsequent rainstorms have resulted in much higher than normal mosquito populations.  They said the immense amount of floodwater throughout the state created habitat for those species of mosquitoes which utilize semi-permanent, standing water for larval development. 

Horses contract West Nile Virus, a viral disease that affects horses’ neurological systems, 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 horse first showed symptoms of WNV on October 10 and is being treated for the disease.  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 2011.  EEE is a 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 2010, New Jersey had two cases of equine WNV and one case of EEE.  All three animals were euthanized.

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.