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Surge in cases of vesicular stomatitis in Colorado horses

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.

Twenty-one properties in Colorado are now under quarantine after horses tested positive for vesicular stomatis.

The quarantines are in Boulder, Broomfield, El Paso, Larimer, and Weld counties.

Results on additional tests in other counties are pending, the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s State Veterinarian’s Office reported.

The number of horses affected was not disclosed, but should be provided in the latest weekly situation report, due from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, a division of the US Department of Agriculture in the next day or so.

Colorado is the second state in the country to have confirmed cases of the disease. Previous positive cases of vesicular stomatitis in 2014 have been diagnosed in Texas.

“Vesicular stomatitis can be painful for animals and costly to their owners,” state veterinarian Dr Keith Roehr said.

“The virus typically causes oral blisters and sores that can be painful causing difficulty in eating and drinking.”

Veterinarians and livestock owners who suspect an animal may have the disease should 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 federally approved vaccines for the disease.

While rare, human cases of vesicular stomatitis can occur, usually among those who handle infected animals. VS in humans can cause flu-like symptoms and only rarely includes lesions or blisters.

Susceptible species include horses, mules, cattle, bison, sheep, goats, pigs, and camelids.

Clinical signs include vesicles, erosions and sloughing of the skin on the muzzle, tongue, teats 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.

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