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March 21, 2018

Two horses in Union County have been quarantined by the state Department of Agriculture after they developed the highly infectious equine herpes myeloencephalopathy, EHM — which is the often deadly neurologic form of the equine herpes virus, EHV-1. They’re the first reported cases in New Jersey in 2018. The animals are on the same property and are being kept in an isolation barn there, while the entire property remains under quarantine. The Department of Agriculture says that, because no horses have moved onto or off the property in several weeks, exposure to horses outside the area is considered unlikely.

EHM is a reportable disease in New Jersey. Clinical signs in horses infected with it typically include mild incoordination, hind-end weakness or paralysis, loss of bladder and tail function, and loss of sensation to the skin in the hind end. The problem is these symptoms are common to many other diseases. The Department of Agriculture advises concerned owners to consult with their veterinarian before taking any action.

The NJDA Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory tests for EHM. There's more information available online; people can also call 609-406-6999.

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

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