Cumberland Horse EEE

The state says the first horse to die this year from eastern equine encephalitis was a 5-year-old Cumberland County mare. Officials urge owners to keep up with vaccinations for their animals.

Agriculture DEPT. / provided

TRENTON — The state Department of Agriculture is urging owners to vaccinate horses after a 15-year-old Cumberland County mare had to be euthanized following the state’s third reported case of a mosquito-borne illness this year.

The mare, whose illness appeared Sept. 30, was not vaccinated against eastern equine encephalitis. The virus can cause inflammation to the brain tissue and has a 90 percent mortality rate for horses not vaccinated.

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“We urge horse owners to maintain their vaccination schedules to prevent their animals from getting diseases like these,” state Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher said in a statement. “Vaccinated animals are much less likely to contract deadly diseases such as EEE and West Nile virus.”

Two other cases were known this summer in Atlantic and Cumberland counties. A Cumberland County horse died Aug. 28. As of Sept. 17, the Atlantic County horse was undergoing treatment.

A 10-year-old Salem County stallion who was not vaccinated is being treated for West Nile infection after a Sept. 29 diagnosis. It is the second known equine case of West Nile this year, following that of a Gloucester County yearling.

EEE and West Nile vaccines are available commercially or through a veterinarian. Untreated horses should be vaccinated and then receive a booster shot four to six weeks later. The state Department of Agriculture also recommends annual vaccinations.

While the diseases tend to spread in late summer and early fall, infections in horses do not pose a significant risk factor for humans.

For more information about EEE and vaccinating horses, see nj.gov/agriculture.

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