(TRENTON) – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture
Charles M. Kuperus announced today that the illness
of a 1-year-old thoroughbred mare in Cumberland County
has been attributed to infection with Equine Eastern
Encephalitis (EEE). This is the first diagnosis of
EEE, a mosquito-borne virus, in a horse in New Jersey
The horse’s owner reported that the horse became ill on August
3, and its condition steadily declined. The animal was humanely euthanized
on August 4. Samples were sent to the New Jersey Diagnostic Laboratory,
which confirmed EEE. In 2003 there were eight confirmed cases of EEE,
two of them having concurrent West Nile Virus infections.
EEE is a rare but serious disease that causes an inflammation of the
brain tissue. Young horses lacking the protection afforded by vaccination
are particularly susceptible to infection. EEE has a significantly higher
risk of death than West Nile infection.
“An effective equine vaccine for EEE has been available for many years,” said
Secretary Kuperus. “Horse owners should contact their veterinarians now
if their horses are not already up-to-date on their vaccinations against EEE.
It is important to note that the vaccine for West Nile virus does not protect
horses against EEE, or vice versa.”
West Nile Virus and EEE, 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.