TRENTON, NJ — No new cases of illness have been reported since a Warren County, N.J. farm was placed under quarantine after a horse tested positive for equine herpes myeloencephalopathy (EHM) caused by equine herpes virus-1 (EHV-1), according to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.

The 25-year-old quarter horse mare was euthanized Nov. 2, according to a statement by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. Tests that came back on Nov. 8 confirmed the diagnosis. 

Other horses at the home farm that have been exposed to the positive horse are quarantined for at least 21 days. Immediate biosecurity measures are in effect at the home premises. Additionally, all the horses on the quarantined premises will be temperature checked twice daily to confirm the virus is not spreading.

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Other horses kept at the farm where the horse was euthanized attended shows in the area the following weekend before the test results came back.

On Nov. 13, the Department of Agriculture posted an update: "No other horses have shown signs of EHM. Exposed horses that attended shows are in good health. Organizers of the events attended by these horses  have been contacted directly, and attendees have been notified about the possible exposure. Concerned owners should contact their veterinarians."

EHV-1 spreads quickly from horse to horse, has a high morbidity and can cause a wide range of symptoms, from a complete lack of clinical signs to respiratory problems, especially in young horses, and spontaneous abortions in pregnant mares. Transmission of the virus is mostly via direct contact with infected materials; therefore, tack must not be shared between horses and biosecurity measures must be utilized. While highly infectious, the virus does not persist in the environment and is neutralized by hand soap, alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and sunlight.

The virus does not affect humans and other domestic animals, except for llamas and alpacas.

If an owner has a horse that is exhibiting neurologic signs or suspects Equine Herpes, they are directed to call their veterinarian immediately. Concerned owners should consult their veterinarian prior to taking any action as the clinical signs of EHM are common to many other diseases. For more information about the disease, visit www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/ah/pdf/equine_herpesvirus_brochure_2009.pdf

EHM, like other viral diseases affecting horses’ neurological systems, such as Rabies, Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus, must be reported to the state veterinarian within 48 hours on a neurologic disease worksheet that is available at: 

http://jerseyvetlab.nj.gov/sample/forms/FORM-R-019%201%20Neurologic%20Disease%20Worksheet.pdf

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