On April 30, 2012 the New Mexico Department of Agriculture announced that the country’s first case of vesicular stomatitis (VS) this year was diagnosed in a horse in Otero County. The New Mexico Livestock Board (NMLB) and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary Services have quarantined the facility and are working together to conduct surveillance of all livestock in the immediate vicinity to contain the disease.
Then on May 4, the Colorado State Veterinarian sent out a news release indicating that two horses outside of the town of Tularosa in Otero County have been found to have lesions caused by VS so far. According to Colorado State Veterinarian Dr. Keith Roehr, “Vesicular stomatitis can be painful for the animals and costly to their owners. While this virus does not typically cause death, the animal can suffer from painful sores so it is important to monitor herds for symptoms.”
Vesicular Stomatitis (VS) Signs and Transmission
VS susceptible species include horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, deer and other species of animals. The clinical signs of the disease include blister-like lesions called vesicles, erosions and loss of skin on the muzzle, tongue, teats, and above the hooves. Vesicles are usually only seen early in the course of the disease.
Animals with oral lesions may refuse to eat and/or drink due to pain, which results in weight loss. Foot lesions can result in lameness. In severe situations, the hoof may slough or hoof growth may be permanently impacted.
The transmission of the VS virus is not fully understood. Most cases are likely spread by insect vectors particularly along river valleys. Biting flies have been shown to be capable of transmitting VS. Sand flies and black flies have been identified as especially important vectors.
While rare, human cases of VS can occur, usually among those who handle infected animals. VS in humans can cause flu-like symptoms and only rarely includes lesions or blisters.
VS occurs sporadically in certain areas of the western United States. Veterinarians and livestock owners who suspect an animal may have vesicular stomatitis should immediately contact State or Federal animal health authorities. Livestock with symptoms of VS are isolated until they are cleared through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s diagnostic laboratory testing. There are no USDA approved vaccines for VS.
Tips for Livestock Owners
•Strict fly control for horses is an important factor for inhibiting the transmission of the disease.
•Avoid transferring feeding equipment, cleaning tools, or health care equipment between herds.
•When moving animals between states, livestock owners should contact the state of destination to ensure that all entry requirements are met.
•Fairs, livestock exhibitions, horse shows, rodeos, etc. may institute new entry requirements based on the extent and severity of the current VS outbreak. Be sure to stay informed of any new changes to event requirements.
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