A horse with vesicular stomatitis.
Utah officials confirm a mule has tested positive for vesicular stomatitis (VS). An additional four horses showing symptoms of the virus are undergoing testing, according to the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.
The department states an additional nine horses may have had contact with the confirmed and suspected cases. All of the animals are located in Kane County where they are quarantined by the state.
The animals traveled from Arizona and arrived in Utah. Some of the animals already started show symptoms of the virus by the time they arrived in Utah.
The Arizona Department of Agriculture is testing livestock at seven locations after two horses in Maricopa County were confirmed with the virus. Arizona
was the first state to report cases of VS in 2015. As of last week, Arizona and New Mexico
reported cases of VS in nine locations.
The disease causes blister-like sores on the mouths, noses and sometimes feet of infected animals. The blisters are most likely to affect the the tongue and around the nose and muzzle. They can be painful causing difficulty in eating and drinking.
Many animals recover after a couple of weeks from the disease, but if the vesicles become infected, officials say the recovery process, which includes treatment of the horse’s symptoms, may take longer. Other animals, including sheep, cows, goats, and llamas, can also be affected.
Owners are urged to report symptoms to their vets immediately since VS is highly contagious and resembles other diseases, such as foot and mouth disease.
The disease can move from animal to animal by contact or exposure to saliva or fluid from ruptured lesions. Insects are also suspected as an important vector in the transmission of the disease. Sand flies and black flies may play a role in the virus transmission.
While rare, human cases of VS can occur, usually among those who handle infected animals. In humans, the disease can cause flu-like symptoms and only rarely includes lesions or blisters.
Utah is the third state to have animals infected with VS in 2015.