Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) finds its first New Jersey victim of 2017 in Cumberland County.

Horse (NJ Department of Agriculture)
Horse (NJ Department of Agriculture)

A five-year-old, unvaccinated mare died of the condition August 28, according to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. There were four recorded cases of EEE in New Jersey in 2016, and no reported West Nile Virus cases, authorities said.

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

EEE is a mosquito-borne disase that inflames brain tissue, and is considered more lethal than West Nile Virus, also carried by mosquitos, which hits a horse's neurological system. Agriculture officials say that the horses and humans are incidental hosts as the virus travels between mosquitos and birds.

Horse owners are urged to contact veterinarians if inoculations for either disease are not current.

Viral ailments affecting horse neurological systems are required to be reported to the New Jersey State Veterinarian's Office within 48 hours of diagnosis, 609-671-6400. The New Jersey Animal Health Diagnostic Lab can be reached at 609-406-6999.

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