PULLMAN, Wash. – The bluetongue virus (BTV) is infecting and killing domestic and wild ruminants in Washington State. Researchers at the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory of Washington State Univ.’s College of Veterinary Medicine confirmed the presence of the virus in 42 animals submitted from Washington and Idaho.
Bluetongue is an infectious insect-borne virus that affects primarily ruminants. It does not spread directly from animal-to-animal contact, and it is not a threat to humans, WSU noted. Poor blood oxygenation makes the tongues and lips of animals appear bluer than normal, a condition called cyanosis. The virus can infect cattle, domestic and wild sheep, bison, goats, deer, elk and other ruminants.
The diagnostic laboratory identified the virus in animals from Spokane, Asotin, Garfield, Pend Oreille and Stevens counties in Washington, in addition to Latah, Clearwater, Canyon and Nez Perce counties in Idaho. The laboratory also confirmed BTV-positive test samples from cattle and bighorn sheep submitted from Churchill and Mineral counties in Nevada.
Symptoms of BTV include high fever, profuse salivations, nasal discharge, facial swelling and difficulty breathing. Severe cases can lead to lung damage. WSU added that animals that develop symptoms may decline rapidly; death may follow in less than a week. However, animals that don’t die from BTV may recover slowly or be euthanized due to welfare concerns.