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Eastern Equine Encephalitis: New Jersey reports 2nd case of 2017

Just about one month after seeing the first Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) case on the year in Cumberland County, New Jersey agriculture officials report a second case in a 9-year-old Atlantic County mare.

Image/markusspiske

The horse had not been vaccinated against EEE for two years and is undergoing treatment. The onset of the illness was Sept. 17, 2017.

“Horse owners need to be vigilant in vaccinating their animals against diseases spread by mosquitoes,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher. “Vaccinated animals are much less likely to contract deadly diseases such as EEE and West Nile Virus.”

EEE is a mosquito-transmitted disease that is much more severe than West Nile Virus (WNV).  The mortality rate in horses from WNV is reported at around 30%, while the rate for EEE is almost 90%.  Infected mosquitoes are the primary source for EEE.

The virus causes inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord.  General symptoms include central nervous system signs such as: head pressing, convulsions, lack of response to facial stimulation, fever above 103 degrees, ataxia, paralysis, anorexia, depression and stupor.  Other symptoms may include irregular gait, teeth grinding, in-coordination, circling, and staggering.  All symptoms may not be exhibited by an infected horse.

Effective equine vaccines for EEE and WNV are available commercially. Horse owners should contact their veterinarians if their horses are not already up-to-date on their vaccinations against both EEE and WNV.

Late summer and early fall are the prime seasons for these diseases. In 2016, 4 cases of equine EEE occurred in New Jersey between mid-August and mid-September. There were no cases of equine WNV in 2016.

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