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Reminder to Vaccinate Horses Against Disease

For Immediate Release: August 13, 2012
Contact: Lynne Richmond            
(609) 633-2954

(TRENTON) – An 11-year-old quarter horse mare from Salem County has tested positive for West Nile Virus, the first case in New Jersey this year.  The animal began showing signs of illness on August 4 and was euthanized.

“We want to remind people to vaccinate their horses against mosquito-borne diseases,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher.  “Horse owners should contact their veterinarians to protect their animals from these preventable diseases.”

West Nile Virus (WNV) is a viral disease that affects horses’ neurological systems when infected mosquitoes bite them.  Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) causes inflammation of the brain tissue and has a significantly higher risk of death in horses than WNV infection.  The diseases cannot be spread from horse to horse or from an infected horse to humans or domestic pets.

In 2011, New Jersey had one case of WNV and one case of equine EEE.  One animal was euthanized, the other recovered.  Both cases came in October after Hurricane Irene and subsequent rains caused flooding that resulted in much higher than normal mosquito populations. 

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

EEE and West Nile virus, like other viral diseases affecting horses’ neurological systems, must be reported to the state veterinarian at 609-671-6400 within 48 hours of diagnosis.  The Department of Agriculture’s Animal Diagnostic Laboratory provides disease testing, as well as necropsies.  For more information about its services, visit