Equine Emergency: Vesicular stomatitis confirmed in Colorado | TSLN.com

Equine Emergency: Vesicular stomatitis confirmed in Colorado

Maria Tussing
Assistant Editor

Vesicular stomatitis, which has been confirmed in Colorado and Texas, is transmissable between horses and cattle, as well as other species. The disease looks similar to foot-and-mouth disease, so containment is a high priority. Photo by Heather Hamilton Maude.

Vesicular stomatitis has been confirmed in four horses in Colorado. The four horses are on two premises in Weld County, in northeastern Colorado.

The National Veterinary Services Laboratory reported the positive test results July 17. The only other reported cases this year are in Texas.

The horses involved in the Colorado cases have been placed under quarantine, but have no history of travel, according to a press release from the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

Vesicular stomatitis can affect horses, mules, cattle, bison, sheep, goats, pigs and camelids, causing vesicles (blister-like sacs), erosions and sloughing of skin on the muzzle, tongue, teats and above the hooves of susceptible livestock. It can also be transmitted to humans, who exhibit flu-like symptoms, but rarely show lesions or blisters.

"Vesicular stomatitis can be painful for animals and costly to their owners," said Colorado state veterinarian, Dr. Keith Roehr. "The virus typically causes oral blisters and sores that can be painful, causing difficulty in eating and drinking."

According to Dr. Dustin Oedekoven, South Dakota state veterinarian, the disease does not usually cause long-term effects, and the only cure is time. Livestock managers can provide palatable, easy-to-eat food for affected animals, but there is no medical treatment.

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The transmission of vesicular stomatitis is not completely understood but components include insect vectors, mechanical transmission, and livestock movement.

Oedekoven said the primary reason for aggressive containment policies for vesicular stomatitis is its resemblance to other, more serious, foreign animal diseases, like foot-and-mouth disease.

"Vesicular stomatitis becoming established in the equine population could lead to it spreading to other animal populations. We don't want it to become widespread and cause confusion," Oedekoven said. As a foreign animal disease, vesicular stomatitis has to be investigated by a federal or state foreign animal disease diagnostician.

Surrounding states are implementing safeguards to keep the disease from spreading beyond the currently affected states.

According to a press release from the Wyoming Livestock Board, Wyoming state veterinarian Dr. Jim Logan announced July 18 that the Wyoming Livestock Board is now requiring that all livestock imported from any state where the disease has been diagnosed be accompanied by a health certificate written within 10 days prior to entry into the state. Livestock animals include horses, cattle, sheep, goats and swine.

If vulnerable animals are moving into Nebraska from states that have reported cases of vesicular stomatitis, they are required to have a permit issued by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, said Steve Graemlich, livestock import manager. The permit verifies that the animals are not coming from a premise that has been under quarantine for vesicular stomatitis, and are showing no signs of the disease. For most animals, that permit is part of the normally required health certificate issued by a veterinarian within 30 days of movement. For animals being brought into the state for exhibition, the permit must be issued within 48 hours of movement.

South Dakota has not implemented additional import requirements beyond the standard health certificate and negative Coggins test, Oedekoven said, but the South Dakota Animal Industry Board will continue to evaluate the situation and take action as necessary.

The Colorado State Veterinarian's office says veterinarians and livestock owners should contact the state of destination when moving livestock to ensure all import requirements are met. Livestock exhibitors should also check with event managers for additional entry requirements.

Livestock handlers can help minimize the spread of the disease by limiting the sharing of feed and water equipment, applying insect repellent daily (especially to the ears) and watching for signs of vesicular stomatitis, which includes fever and lesions in the mouth.