Farms quarantined following positive EHV-1 case in NJ

Location of New Jersey in the US.
Location of New Jersey in the US.

Two farms in New Jersey have been quarantined following confirmation that a horse has contracted the neurological form of Equine Herpes Virus-1 (EHV-1).

The New Jersey Department of Agriculture said one of the properties was in Gladstone, the other in Pompton Plains.

In all, 11 horses across up to four states are understood to have had contact with the infected horse when it attended a show in New York. None of those horses have shown signs of illness at this time, authorities said.

The department said the infected horse was recovering and receiving treatment at a veterinary quarantine facility in Oldwick.

State Veterinarian Dr Manoel Tamassia said the horse had attended a show in Newburgh, New York, during the weekend of January 12. Six days later, a veterinarian told the department that they were treating a horse for an illness involving neurologic signs.

The initial positive test result for EHV-1 was confirmed by the New Jersey Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory that day and a trace of the horse’s movements was undertaken with help from the New York State Veterinarian’s office. Pennsylvania and Connecticut authorities also are involved in the disease investigation.

Tracing activities revealed 11 additional horses from New Jersey also participating in the show were exposed to the positive horse. All have been located and none are currently showing signs of illness.

“The Department has taken immediate preventive measures to stop the virus from spreading,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher.

“It is essential that we use quarantines and trace back in equine herpes cases since the disease is easily transmitted, causing many horses to become sick or die.”

The EHV-1 virus spreads 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 neurological form of EHV-1, 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 are common to many other diseases. The neurologic form of EHV is a reportable disease in New Jersey. If an owner has a horse that is exhibiting neurologic signs or suspects Equine Herpes, they should call their veterinarian immediately.

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