State removes equine virus quarantines from area farms

HOWELL — Quarantines at five Monmouth County farms and one farm in Gloucester County for possible equine herpes virus have been lifted, according to the state Department of Agriculture.

All of the farms were considered to be at high risk for the virus, which spreads quickly in horses.

Two horses at the Sweet Dreams Farm on Casino Drive, Howell, had to be euthanized in late March after they showed symptoms of the neurological form of the disease, which is often fatal and can spread quickly from horse to horse.

Another horse died with similar symptoms and two others had presumptive positive tests for the disease.

The Department of Agriculture announced the quarantine on April 1.

The other farms involved included Never Ends Farm, 384 Conover St., Howell; 266 Lanes Mill Road, Howell; Riata Man Ranch, 27 West Farms Road, Howell; 43 Charleston Springs Road, Millstone Township; and 780 Heritage Rd., Sewell, Gloucester County.

All of the farms had been placed under quarantine because of “high risk” contact with Sweet Dreams Farm or having received a horse from Sweet Dreams, according to the Department of Agriculture.

The department also investigated the Camelot Auction Company in Middlesex County and Handy Acres Farm in Ocean County, but the two locations were not included in the quarantine, according to the department.

Equine herpes virus can cause respiratory problems, especially in young horses, and spontaneous abortions in pregnant mares. The neurologic form of the virus can reach high morbidity and mortality rates. The incubation period of EHV-1 clinically affected horses is typically two to 10 days, but in apparent infections may be spread for 21 days.