The New Jersey Department of Agriculture has quarantined a horse farm in Colts Neck, Monmouth County, after six horses contracted the neurologic form of Equine Herpes Virus-1 (EHV-1).
The disease was discovered by a private veterinarian treating a sick horse, which was later euthanized by the veterinarian on April 13 after it failed to respond to treatment. The other five horses are recovering from their illnesses.
The department is performing animal tracing activities at the farm to determine the extent of the outbreak. In addition, the Department is performing disease control and testing activities with the farm in order to limit the spread of the virus.
"The Department has acted swiftly to quarantine the farm and begin preventive measures to stop the virus from spreading," said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher. "Quarantine and trace back are essential in Equine Herpes cases, because the disease can spread exponentially, 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 2 to 10 days. The virus spreads readily through direct contact with infected materials. 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. For more information, visit www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/ah/prog/lab.html.
Disclaimer: Seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian before proceeding with any diagnosis, treatment, or therapy.