Contact tracing efforts and an investigation is underway after a horse in New Jersey tested positive for equine herpes myeloencephalopathy, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture announced on Thursday.

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Equine herpes myeloencephalopathy is an often-deadly neurologic form of the Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) infection, according to the NJDOA.

This disease is spread amongst horses.

"The most common way for EHV-1 to spread is by direct horse-to-horse contact. This virus is shed from infected horses via the respiratory tract or through direct or indirect contact with an infected aborted fetus and fetal membranes," according to the U.S. DOA.

In New Jersey, a 30-year old mare in Hunterdon County began showing signs on August 8 and was then euthanized.

The NJDOA said that the other horses on the premises where this mare developed Equine Herpes are now under quarantine with their temperatures being taken twice daily to monitor for sickness.

They are also tracing and notifying the appropriate parties regarding recent horse movement.

“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 properties and puts in place preventive measures to contain the virus,” New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Doug Fisher said in a statement.

Here is a description of how Equine Herpes comes to be and spread among horses, according to the NJDOA.

"The EHV-1 organism spreads quickly from horse to horse and can cause respiratory problems, especially in young horses, spontaneous abortions in pregnant mares, and the neurologic form of the virus can result in death.

The incubation period of EHV-1 is typically 2-10 days. Clinical signs include respiratory disease, fever, nasal discharge, depression, cough, lack of appetite, and/or enlarged lymph nodes.

In horses infected with the neurologic strain of EHV-1, clinical signs typically include mild incoordination, hind end weakness/paralysis, loss of bladder and tail function, and loss of sensation to the skin in the hind end.

The virus spreads readily through direct contact with infected materials.

The virus is endemic in the country and although highly infectious, it does not persist in the environment for an extended period and is neutralized by hand soap, alcohol-based hand sanitizers and sunlight.

The virus does not affect humans and other domestic animals, except for llamas and alpacas."

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