BROOMFIELD, Colo. — On June 24, 2019, the Texas Animal Health Commission announced a confirmed case of Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) in a horse located in Kinney County. While several hundred miles from Colorado, the case is concerning to livestock owners in Colorado due to the potential of a northward movement of the virus throughout the summer.
The transmission of VSV is not completely understood but includes insect vectors such as black flies, sand flies, biting midges, as well as mechanical transmission and livestock movement.
“This recent confirmation of VSV in Texas serves as a reminder that livestock owners must be vigilant in safeguarding their herds from this virus,” said Colorado State Veterinarian, Dr. Keith Roehr. “Now is the time to start thinking about disease mitigation practices to protect Colorado’s livestock.”
Horses, mules, cattle, bison, sheep, goats, pigs, and camelids are all susceptible to VSV. 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. It can be painful for animals and costly to their owners, typically causing oral blisters and sores that can be painful and result in difficulty eating and drinking. Vesicles are usually only seen early in the course of the disease.
Veterinarians and livestock owners who suspect an animal may have VSV or any other vesicular disease should immediately contact state or federal animal health authorities.
Colorado most recently experienced VSV outbreaks in 2014 and 2015 resulting in several hundred quarantines and movement restrictions involving horses and cattle. The goal in the management of the disease is to accomplish effective control while minimizing the negative economic impacts to livestock owners.
“While at this time it is difficult to predict whether VSV will move northward, a few simple steps can go a long way in protecting Colorado’s livestock,” Roehr said.
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 fairs, livestock exhibitions, and rodeos may institute new entry requirements based on the extent and severity of VSV outbreaks. A certificate of veterinary inspection (health certificate) issued within 2-5 days prior to an event can be beneficial in reducing risks. Be sure to stay informed of any new developments of VSV in Texas and potentially other states.
- If moving livestock internationally, contact the USDA APHIS VS Colorado office at 303-231-5385 to determine if there are any movement restrictions or testing requirements for VSV.
- Any vesicular disease of livestock is reportable to the State Veterinarian’s Office in Colorado. To report a case, call 303-869-9130. If after hours, call the same number to reach the staff veterinarian on call.
— Colorado Department of Agriculture
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