Veterinarian warns of vesicular stomatitis cases

by Erica Shaffer
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Nebraska State Veterinarian Dr. Dennis Hughes urges ranchers to report vesicular stomatititis infections immediately.
Vesicular stomatitis is a viral disease that mainly affects horses and cattle, but other livestock species can become infected as well.
(Photo: Iowa State Univ. via Plum Island Animal Disease Center.

LINCOLN – A diagnosis of vesicular stomatitis (VS) in a horse led to the quarantine of all livestock on a farm in Scotts Bluff County, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) reported. State Veterinarian Dr. Dennis Hughes urged producers to contact their veterinarian immediately if their animals show symptoms of the disease, because a positive diagnosis may trigger animal import restrictions in other states.

“Vesicular stomatitis is typically transmitted in two primary ways, biting insects and midges, and nose-to-nose contact between a non-infected and infected animal,” Hughes said in a news release. “The best ways to reduce the chance of VS infection is to reduce the population of flies, mosquitoes and other biting insects as much as possible, and to isolate infected animals from uninfected animals.”

Vesicular stomatitis is a viral disease that mainly affects horses and cattle. However other livestock, such as sheep, goats and swine, also can be infected. The NDA explained that VS is typically found in Mexico in the winter months and periodically moves north into the United States. NDA added that the virus has infected horses and cattle in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota.

More recently, several cases of VS have been confirmed in areas of Wyoming, Colorado and South Dakota, which border the Nebraska panhandle. The state’s last cases of VS were in November 2014 in two cows in Wheeler County, Neb.; the state’s last major outbreak of VS was in 2005, NDA noted.

Symptoms of VS include blister-like lesions to form in the mouth and on the dental pad, tongue, lips, nostrils, hooves and teats. Additionally, infected animals may refuse to eat and drink which leads to severe weight loss, NDA said.

Livestock show implications

Hughes and officials for the AKSARBEN Stock Show and Rodeo have agreed to implement new requirements for horse and cattle exhibitors. Horses arriving at the show from anywhere within Nebraska will need to have seen a veterinarian within 48 hours. The same rule applies for Nebraska cattle headed to the show and also will apply to Banner, Box Butte, Cheyenne, Dawes, Deuel, Garden, Kimball, Morrill, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan and Sioux counties.

The AKSARBEN show is a regional 4-H-only livestock show open to members from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Wyoming. The event is scheduled for Sept. 24 through Sept. 27.

“Until the weather gets cold, eliminating transmission vectors like flies and mosquitoes, there is still a chance that we could see a spread of the disease,” Hughes said. “Requiring a health check within two days before shows where animals commingle will help protect against such spread.”

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