EEE Confirmed in New Jersey Horse

New Jersey officials announced last week that the state's first equine case of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) since 2000 had been detected. The 8-year-old Thoroughbred in Mays Landing, Atlantic County, was euthanized Aug. 7.

"Eastern equine encephalitis has a high fatality rate in horses," said New Jersey's agriculture secretary Charles M. Kuperus. "Therefore, it is very important that owners check to make sure their horses are up to date on vaccinations against this disease."

The affected horse first showed signs of illness on Aug. 6, and the owner reported that the horse's health steadily declined. Blood tests confirmed presence of EEE. The horse's vaccination status was unclear.

In 2000, one horse was infected with EEE and died. In 1998, 12 horses and two birds died after being infected with EEE.

Eastern equine encephalitis was detected in mosquitoes in New Jersey earlier this season than ever before, raising the possibility that it may pose a greater health threat than West Nile virus. In response, New Jersey has stepped up statewide mosquito control efforts.

Horse owners should contact their veterinarians if their horses are not current on their EEE or West Nile virus (WNV) vaccinations. It is important to note that the vaccine for WNV does not protect horses against EEE, or vice versa.

In New Jersey, WNV and EEE must be reported to the state veterinarian at 609/292-3965 within 48 hours. This is essential to ensure the enhancement of mosquito control efforts to protect people and horses.

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