Two horses in Atlantic County were diagnosed with the 2nd and 3rd reported cases in New Jersey in 2021 of a very serious mosquito borne illness known as Eastern Equine Encephalitis  and have had to be put down as a result.

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The New Jersey Department of Agriculture released a statement on Friday afternoon announcing that an 8-year-old mare and 7-year-old miniature horse stallion had the illness.

However, due to the severity of the disease in these horses plus nether of them being vaccinated, both had to be put down being humanely euthanized.

“These new cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis emphasize the importance of horse owners needing to vaccinate their animals to greatly reduce the chances of contracting EEE and West Nile Virus,” New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Doug Fisher said in a statement on Friday.

The first case of EEE in 2021 occurred earlier this year in Cumberland County.

In 2019, there were 10 total animals in New Jersey who contracted EEE by this point in the year, including 9 horses.

The 4th and 5th cases were reported at the same time as a 7-year-old alpaca in Camden County and a 2-year-old gelding horse in Ocean County were diagnosed with the illness and they were put to rest as well.

The alpaca’s vaccination history wasn't known at the time it was euthanized in 2019.

Three horses in Ocean County that year, including a 12-year-old mare, and one horse in Monmouth County also tested positive and were also euthanized as well.

Then in September, five more horses including two additional ones in Ocean County as well as one each in Atlantic, Morris and Salem Counties.

None of the horses were vaccinated.

The New Jersey Department of Agriculture explains that, "EEE causes inflammation of the brain tissue and has a significantly higher risk of death in horses than West Nile Virus (WNV), a serious viral disease that affects a horse’s neurological system. The diseases are transmitted by a mosquito bite. The virus cycles between birds and mosquitoes with horses and humans being incidental hosts. EEE infections in horses are not a significant risk factor for human infection because horses (like humans) are "dead-end" hosts for the virus."

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