A New Jersey farm has been quarantined following the diagnosis of the neurologic form of equine herpes virus (EHV-1) in a 22-year-old horse.
The New Jersey Department of Agriculture said the horse in question had not left the Warren County farm in years.
The thoroughbred mare was euthanized on March 31 after it had a rapid progression of neurological signs typical of the disease. It subsequently tested positive for EHV-1.
There are several other horses present at the property, none of whom have shown signs of the disease.
It is the third case of the disease in New Jersey this year. A positive horse in Somerset County prompted quarantines at two farms in January and two other farms were quarantined in February due to a sick horse in Gloucester County. No other horses in the two unrelated cases showed signs of the illness and the quarantines were lifted after 21 days.
“The department took swift action to prevent the disease from spreading to other horses by enacting a quarantine, which stops movement of horses in and out of the farm and puts in place preventive measures to contain the virus,” New Jersey agriculture secretary Douglas Fisher said.
The EHV-1 virus can spread quickly from horse to horse, has a high morbidity and can cause a wide range of symptoms, from a complete lack of clinical signs to respiratory problems, especially in young horses, and spontaneous abortions in pregnant mares.
The neurologic form, additionally, can cause an acute paralytic syndrome, which results in a high mortality.
The incubation period of EHV-1 is typically 2 to 10 days. The virus spreads readily through direct contact with infected materials.
While highly infectious, the virus does not persist in the environment and is neutralized by hand soap, alcohol-based hand sanitizers and sunlight. The virus does not affect humans and other domestic animals, with the exception of llamas and alpacas.
Concerned owners should consult with their veterinarian prior to taking any action as the clinical signs of infection with the neurological form of EHV-1 (EHM) are common to many other diseases. It is a reportable disease in New Jersey.