The New Jersey Department of Agriculture has quarantined two southern New Jersey horse farms, including one in Dennis Township, after horses were exposed to another horse with a highly infectious equine virus.
Horses at farms in Dennisville and Franklinville, Gloucester County, were exposed to a horse with equine herpes myeloencephalopathy, or EHM, that was then euthanized Feb. 15, according to the department. The virus does not affect humans. The only other domestic animals it can affect are llamas and alpacas.
EHM spreads contact quickly from horse to horse through direct and is often fatal. It incubates from two to 10 days and causes a wide range of symptoms, from no clinical signs to respiratory problems, spontaneous abortions and acute paralytic syndrome.
NJDA spokeswoman Lynne Richmond said the department is still investigating whether the quarantined horses contracted the disease. She said they would not release the exact locations of the farms to protect their privacy.
This the second case of horses being exposed to EHM this year. Horse farms in Morris and Somerset counties were quarantined in January when one horse tested positive for the disease after being exposed to an infected horse at a show in New York state.
The NJDA said the sick horse in that case recovered, and there is no apparent relationship between that situation and the recent situation in southern New Jersey.
“In these cases, the department immediately took the appropriate preventive measures to contain the virus and stop it from spreading,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher in a statement issued Friday. “This swift action helps to prevent many more horses from becoming sick.”
The department recommends that concerned owners should consult with their veterinarian prior to taking any action, since the signs of EHM are similar to other diseases.
Richmond said the quarantine could last as long as three weeks. No horses are allowed onto the farms and none are allowed off it, and workers have to use procedures for cleansing the horses and themselves before tending to other horses.
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