Horse with vesicular stomatitis (VS).
Colorado agriculture officials confirm horses in two counties have tested positive for vesicular stomatitis (VS). The horses reside on two Montrose and one Delta County premises, which are now under quarantine.
The initial disease investigation was accomplished by field veterinarians from the State Veterinarian’s Office at the Colorado Department of Agriculture. The Colorado State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory is now approved to perform VS tests on horses in Colorado for a more timely response to the disease. The positive results were reported on July 2nd.
The state veterinarian says the horses involved have no history of travel. “The primary spread of VS is thought to occur through insect vectors,” said State Veterinarian, Dr. Keith Roehr. “Vesicular stomatitis 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.”
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. Sand and black flies are believed to play a role in the transmission of the virus. Strict fly control is an important factor to help inhibit the transmission as well as avoiding sharing equipment between animals or herds.
A 2014 outbreak of VS created 556 livestock investigations in Colorado resulting in 370 quarantines. The final quarantines were released in January 2015. This year the US Department of Agriculture delisted VS as a foreign animal disease in horses.
Colorado is the fourth state to have cases of VS in 2015. Previous cases have been diagnosed in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.