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Surge in vesicular stomatitis cases in horses in two US states

The tongue of a horse with vesicular stomatitis. Horses with the condition show blanched raised or broken vesicles around the upper surface of the tongue, surface of the lips and around nostrils, corners of the mouth and the gums.

The tongue of a horse with vesicular stomatitis. Horses with the condition show blanched raised or broken vesicles around the upper surface of the tongue, surface of the lips and around nostrils, corners of the mouth and the gums.

Authorities have reported a surge in the number of cases of vesicular stomatitis in Texas and Colorado, with 35 horses currently positive for the disease.

The latest update from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), a division of the US Department of Agriculture, said that, in total, 44 horses have been affected since the outbreak began in Texas on July 18, some of which have recovered and their properties released from quarantine.

Two cattle have also been affected.

APHIS reports that 12 premises have been confirmed with positive cases in horses since the last update, on July 21. Eight of the horses are in Texas and four in Colorado.

The current situation in Texas.

The current situation in Texas.

The agency said, in Texas, positive tests were returned by seven horses on five properties in Travis County and three horses on three properties in Bastrop County. The four new affected premises in Colorado were in Weld County, involving a total of five horses.

To date, a total of 28 positive premises have been identified across the two states, 24 of which remain under quarantine.

Four premises in Texas – one in Kinney County, two in Nueces County and one in San Patricio County – have been released from quarantine. There are currently four other premises in Texas on 21-day countdown to quarantine release.

APHIS lists the number of currently susceptible horses as 260 – 148 in Texas and 112 in Colorado.

The accompanying graphic shows the number of counties with positive premises still under quarantine.

The Texas Animal Health Commission put the locations of the most recent positive cases as follows:

  • One premises 4 miles east of Webberville in Bastrop County
  • One premises 6 miles southeast of Spicewood in Travis County
  • One premises 8 miles northwest of Bastrop in Bastrop County
  • One premises 4 miles east of Webberville in Bastrop County
  • One premises 4 miles northwest of Webberville in Travis County
  • One premises 2 miles south of Garfield in Travis County
  • One premises 3.5 miles northwest of Webberville in Travis County
  • One premises 2.5 miles northwest of Webberville in Travis County

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.

Equids, mules, cattle, bison, sheep, goats, pigs, and camelids are all susceptible to the disease.

A county breakdown of premises still under quarantine. Graphic: APHIS

A county breakdown of premises still under quarantine. Blue figures represent updates from the July 21 report from APHIS. Graphic: APHIS

Clinical signs include vesicles, erosions, and sloughing of the skin on the muzzle, tongue, teats, and above the hooves of affected livestock – symptoms similar to those of foot and mouth disease.

Vesicles are usually seen only early in the course of the disease. The transmission of VS is not completely understood, but components include insect vectors, mechanical transmission, and livestock movement.

While rare, human cases 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.

Authorities says that veterinarians and livestock owners who suspect an animal could have VS or any other vesicular disease should immediately contact state or federal animal health authorities.

Livestock with clinical signs of the disease are isolated until they are healed and determined to be of no further threat for disease spread. There are no vaccines approved by the US Department of Agriculture for VS.

Strict fly control is an important factor to inhibit the transmission of the disease. Authorities also recommend against transferring feeding equipment, cleaning tools or health care equipment between herds.

 

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