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As of Sept. 10, the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s State Veterinarian’s Office has 189 locations under quarantine after horses and cows tested positive for Vesicular Stomatitis (VS), 65 in Larimer County. Eighty-eight of the 277 quarantines have now been released.
“We’ve seen an increase in the released quarantines but there are also four additional counties with new quarantines due to this virus which shows that livestock owners must continue to mitigate their fly populations. This holds true for both, horse and cattle owners, as these counties are highly agricultural. At first, VS was hitting the horse community but we are now seeing more pending cases within cattle operations,” said State Veterinarian Keith Roehr. “The State Veterinarian’s Office is following up on reports of horse owners who have moved their horses out of a quarantined facility. If requirements of the quarantine are not followed, the Department will investigate, write citations for violations, and institute fines according to the Livestock Health Act in State statute.”
For a map of Colorado counties with confirmed cases, visit www.aphis.usda.gov.
VS can be painful for animals and costly to their owners. The virus typically causes oral blisters and sores that can be painful causing difficulty in eating and drinking. Positive premises are eligible for quarantine release 21 days after lesions have healed in all affected animals.
If you plan to transport your horse to another state, be sure to check with the State Veterinarian’s Office in the state of destination as to any special new restrictions for movement of your horse into their state. Some states have instituted new requirements for the import of Colorado horses due to the VS outbreak.
Veterinarians and livestock owners who suspect an animal may have VS or any other vesicular disease should immediately contact State or federal animal health authorities. Livestock with clinical signs of VS are isolated until they are healed and determined to be of no further threat for disease spread. There are no USDA approved vaccines for VS.
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.
The Colorado State University – Veterinary Diagnostic Lab has assisted CDA and USDA in responding to the VS outbreak by acting as a sample drop-off site in which practicing veterinarians can drop off samples from possible VS cases. The samples are then packaged and submitted to the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa by state or federal personnel. CSU-VDL’s involvement has helped us to be more efficient in our response activities.
VS-susceptible species include horses, mules, cattle, bison, sheep, goats, pigs and camelids. The clinical signs of the disease include vesicles, erosions and sloughing of the skin on the muzzle, tongue, ears, teats, groin area, and above the hooves of susceptible livestock. Vesicles are usually only seen early in the course of the disease. The transmission of vesicular stomatitis is not completely understood but components include insect vectors, mechanical transmission, and livestock movement.
“The State Veterinarian’s Office is not recommending that livestock shows be cancelled. Instead, it is more important to consider certificates of veterinary inspection prior to or on site observations at entry into events and then insect control measures during before during and after events occur,” said Roehr. “If event organizers have questions, they can contact our office.”