Health & Wellness

Health Alert: Warren County Farm Quarantined After Horse Diagnosed With Herpes

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TRENTON, N.J. — A Warren County, N.J. farm has been placed under quarantine after a horse tested positive for equine herpes myeloencephalopathy (EHM) caused by equine herpes virus-1 (EHV-1). The 25-year-old quarter horse mare was euthanized Nov. 2, according to a statement by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.

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. A history of recent contact with other horses is being performed to check for any other potentially exposed horses.

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.

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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

The NJDA Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory provides testing for the neurologic form of EHV-1. For more information, visit http://www.jerseyvetlab.nj.gov/

Eastern Equine Encephalitis Totals 5

On Oct. 24, two New Jersey horses tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and both were euthanized as a result of the infection. The 10- and 11-year-old geldings were both located in Cape May County.

As of Oct. 25, five New Jersey horses have tested positive for EEE and two have tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV). In all cases, the positive horses were either not vaccinated, were not current on vaccination, had an unknown vaccination history, or did not receive the necessary booster following the initial vaccination. Thus far, all positive horses have been located in the southern portion of the state: Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem County.

Both EEE and WNV are viral diseases that affect horses’ neurological systems and are transmitted by mosquito bite. EEE and WNV are serious diseases that cause inflammation of the brain tissue. In addition, EEE has a significantly higher death rate than WNV with a mortality rate of up to 90%. As indicated above, horses fully vaccinated for EEE and WNV are less likely to contract these deadly diseases. Effective equine vaccines for WNV and EEE have been available for several years.

For more information about EEE and WNV in horses, visit the New Jersey Department of Agriculture website at: http://www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/ah/diseases/diseaseworksheets.html

EEE and WNV, like other viral diseases affecting horses’ neurological systems, must be reported to the state veterinarian within 48 hours, and a neurologic disease worksheet must be completed for each case reported. The worksheet is available at the following website and once completed can be faxed to the Division.
http://jerseyvetlab.nj.gov/sample/forms/FORM-R-019%201%20Neurologic%20Disease%20Worksheet.pdf

The NJDA – Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory (AHDL) is available to assist with EEE, WNV, and EHV-1 testing. If the horse is located in NJ, the EEE and WNV testing is provided at no cost to the submitter as the AHDL receives funding from the State Mosquito Control Commission to perform the testing.

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