An alpaca and horse are the fourth and fifth animals in New Jersey this year that have contracted a serious, and often deadly, mosquito-spread disease.
Based on the mosquito surveillance data findings this year, combined with our experience with EEE, it is important to use aerial spraying to help reduce public health risk, Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said in a statement. Spraying does not eliminate risk, however, and we continue to emphasize that residents use EPA-approved bug spray, wear long sleeves and pants to cover exposed skin, and cancel outdoor activities during the evening hours when mosquitoes are most active.
The 7-year-old alpaca in Camden County and 2-year-old gelding horse in Ocean County were diagnosed with eastern equine encephalitis, which causes inflammation of the brain tissue and, in most cases, kills any animal that acquires it, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday.
The alpacas vaccination history was unknown and it was euthanized earlier this month, officials said. The department did not say if the horse was euthanized.
Two other horses in Ocean County and one horse in Monmouth County have also tested positive for the disease and were euthanized within the last month,” the department said. Last year, New Jersey had five cases of eastern equine encephalitis.
Ocean County Horse Infected With Serious Mosquito-Borne Illness
These cases are reminders that it is imperative for horse and alpaca owners to be vigilant in vaccinating their animals against diseases spread by mosquitoes, New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher said in a release. Vaccinated animals are much less likely to contract deadly diseases such as Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Vaccination is the most effective strategy and effective equine vaccines are available commercially. Horse and alpaca owners should also consider using fans in barns and mosquito repellents.
No special precautions are recommended; however, residents can reduce exposure by staying indoors during spraying. Aerial spraying is not expected to have any impacts on surface water or drinking water.
Widow of Middleboro EEE victim: I dont want another family to go through this
Eastern equine encephalitis has a significantly higher risk of death in horses and alpacas than West Nile virus, another mosquito-borne viral disease that affects an animals neurological system, according to the release.
Humans are unlikely to catch eastern equine encephalitis from horses or alpacas as the animals are considered to be dead-end hosts for the virus, but they can get it from mosquitos, officials said.
The Department of Agriculture encouraged all horse owners to have their animals vaccinated against both eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus.
This week, the Department of Public Health announced a second round of aerial spraying for parts of Southeastern Massachusetts, which began Wednesday.
Both viral diseases must be reported to the state veterinarian at 609-671-6400 within 48 hours of diagnosis, the department said.
Chris Sheldon may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @chrisrsheldon Find NJ.com on Facebook.
BOSTON (CBS) – Eastern Equine Encephalitis is at critical or high risk levels in 37 towns in Massachusetts, many of them in the southeastern part of the state.
The state Department of Agricultural Resources will conduct aerial spraying in those areas on Sunday and continue over several evenings.
Aerial spraying for mosquitoes to start Sunday in Milford, Hopkinton
“EEE activity is generated from a specific type of habitat – Red Maple/White Cedar swamps. Southeastern Massachusetts (specifically Bristol and Plymouth Counties) has the highest concentration of these swamps in Massachusetts and in fact, one of the highest concentrations along the entire east coast,” a Massachusetts Department of Public Health spokesperson told WBZ-TV.
So far this summer, 311 positive samples of EEE have been found in mosquitoes. Two positive cases have been found in humans, one in southern Plymouth County and one in Grafton. They’re first human cases of the disease in Massachusetts since 2013.
Gabrielle Sakolsky, an entomologist at the Cape Cod Mosquito Control Project, said she’s never seen anything like this summer’s levels.
“This is an historic event with high levels of Eastern Equine Encephalitis all over the Commonwealth and this is the most samples we’ve ever had come back positive,” she told WBZ.
“Last fall we still had water in all of our swamps, The types of mosquitoes that amplify this disease and transmit this disease, they’re the type of mosquitoes that spend the winter in their larvae stages and so if it dries out over the winter you start the season with very low populations of these mosquitoes. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened last fall.”
“It’s concerning at this point because we continue to pick up mosquitoes that are testing positive,” Sakolsky said. “So people really need to take all of the precautions they can to make sure they’re not getting bitten between dusk and dawn.”