Saturday, July 19, 2014

What is Vesicular Stomatitis and Why You Should Care?

Maybe you have heard some of the news this week about the Vesicular Stomatitis (VS) cases that have popped up in Colorado since last Thursday, July 17th.  As of today, July 19th, there are a total of 5 horses in Colorado with laboratory confirmed VS infections.  These horses live on two premises in Weld County and one premises in Boulder County.

So how did they get infected?  

The interested fact is that none of these currently known infected horses have any history of travel.  VS can infect horses, mules, cattle, bison, sheep, goats, pigs, camelids and, in rare cases, humans.  The transmission of VS is not completely understood but we think that it is spread by insects, direct contact, and livestock movement from area to area.  It is very likely that there are infected animals or insects that have been transported through these affected areas and left these 5 horses the gift of a VS infection.  This is concerning since we are in the middle of rodeo, fair and livestock show season.


What symptoms did the horses have & how did they know to test for VS? 

I can't say for sure what these horses' exact symptoms were, but commonly the clinical signs of the disease include vesicles, erosions and sloughing of the skin on the muzzle, tongue, teats and above the hooves of susceptible livestock. Vesicles are usually only seen early in the course of the disease.  There have been several cases of VS in Texas this summer and the veterinarians that initially visited these Colorado horses must have been paying attention and took appropriate action.

“Vesicular stomatitis can be painful for animals and costly to their owners,” said State Veterinarian, Dr. Keith Roehr. “The virus typically causes oral blisters and sores that can be painful causing difficulty in eating and drinking.”   


What should you do to protect your animals? 

Obviously, the best way to protect against VS would be to totally isolate all of your animals and vehicles from all other animals and insects until we get a killing frost this Fall.  Since this is not reality, the Colorado State Veterinarians Office has provided the following tips to help you out.

Tips for Livestock Owners:
  • Strict fly control is an important factor to inhibit the transmission of the disease.
  • Avoid transferring feeding equipment, cleaning tools or health care equipment from other herds.
  • Colorado veterinarians and livestock owners should contact the state of destination when moving livestock interstate to ensure that all import requirements are met. A list of contact information for all state veterinarians’ offices is available at and click on "Import Requirements."
  • Colorado fairs, livestock exhibitions, and rodeos may institute new entry requirements based on the extent and severity of the current VS outbreak. Certificates of Veterinary Inspection issued within 2-5 days prior to an event can beneficial to reduce risks. Be sure to stay informed of any new livestock event requirements.
  • During an event, important VS disease prevention procedures include minimizing the sharing of water and feed/equipment, applying insect repellent daily (especially to the animals ears), and closely observing animals for signs of VS.
  • If moving livestock internationally please contact the USDA APHIS VS Colorado office at 303-231-5385 to determine if there are any movement restrictions or testing requirements for VSV.

  How can you stay updated or get more info on the VS situation?


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