Home > News > Press Releases
First Horse in New Jersey Diagnosed with West Nile Virus in 2002

For Immediate Release: August 13, 2002


Hope Gruzlovic




Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus announced today that the illness of a 16-year-old gelding in Holmdel, Monmouth County, has been attributed to infection with the West Nile virus (WNV). This is the first diagnosis of WNV in a horse in New Jersey this year.

The horse's owner reported that the horse became ill in mid-July. A veterinarian took a blood sample, which was submitted to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture's animal health laboratory. After the sample tested positive, the Department forwarded it to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, where initial tests identified the presence of WNV. Final confirmation of the WNV diagnosis is expected in 7 to 10 days. The horse has fully recovered.

WNV is a viral disease that affects horses' neurological systems. Horses contract WNV when infected mosquitoes bite them. The disease cannot be spread from horse to horse or from an infected horse to humans or domestic pets. Not all horses that contract WNV become ill.

Last year, 30 horses in New Jersey were diagnosed with WNV infection. Of those, 13 were euthanized and the remainder recovered.

WNV, like other viral diseases affecting horses' neurological systems, must be reported to the state veterinarian at 609-292-3965 within 48 hours. This information is essential to ensure the initiation of mosquito control efforts to protect other horses and humans from the virus.

Nationwide, 14 other states have reported WNV in horses in 2002. More than 100 horses in the United States have been confirmed to be infected with WNV this year.

Beginning last year, a conditionally licensed WNV vaccine for horses has been made available to licensed veterinarians. The Department of Agriculture recommends that horse owners have their horses vaccinated. Horse owners should contact their veterinarians for more information about vaccination. The Monmouth County horse diagnosed with WNV had not been vaccinated.

For more information about WNV in horses, visit the New Jersey Department of Agriculture web site at www.state.nj.us/agriculture/westnile.htm.