The New Jersey Department of Agriculture has quarantined two farms, one in Gladstone and one in Pompton Plains, after tests confirmed a horse from the Gladstone farm contracted the neurologic form of equine herpes virus-1. That horse is recovering and receiving treatment at a veterinary quarantine facility in Oldwick.
State Veterinarian Dr. Manoel Tamassia said the horse had attended a horse show in Newburgh, N.Y., the weekend of Jan. 12. On Jan. 18, a veterinarian informed 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 the assistance of 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 showing signs of illness.
"The department has taken immediate preventive measures to stop the virus from spreading," said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. 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 neurologic 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 two 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 are directed to call their veterinarian immediately.
The NJDA Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory provides testing for the neurologic form of EHV-1.
Info: nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/ah/prog/lab.html, 609.671.6400