||More Vesicular Stomatitis (VS) Confirmed
in Texas & New Mexico
Horses on a total of three sites in
Texas and four premises in New Mexico are known to be infected with Vesicular
Stomatitis (VS), a painful blistering disease of livestock, such as horses,
sheep, swine and deer. The viral disease appears spontaneously and sporadically
in the southwestern U.S. and is thought to be transmitted by sand flies
and black flies. The VS cases this spring are the first to be confirmed
"The most recent confirmed cases in Texas involve three horses on
a ranch near Denver City, in Gaines County, about 80 miles southwest of
Lubbock, and one horse near Del Rio, in Val Verde County about 150 miles
west of San Antonio," said Dr. Bob Hillman, Texas' state veterinarian
and head of the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), the state's livestock
and poultry health regulatory agency. The country's first VS cases this
year were confirmed May 19, in three horses, which are confined to their
ranch in Reeves County, in far west Texas.
To prevent animal-to-animal disease transmission, the TAHC requires that
the VS-infected animals and the other livestock on the premise remain
quarantined until 30 days after all VS blisters or lesions heal, a process
that usually takes two or three weeks. Prior to quarantine release, the
animals will be re-examined by a state or federal regulatory veterinarian,
to prevent the spread of disease to other premises.
Dr. Steve England, state veterinarian for New Mexico, said a "handful"
of horses on four small premises near Carlsbad, New Mexico were found
to be infected since June 4. The animals remain quarantined on their premises.
"During an active year for VS, it is not unusual for this unpredictable
disease to be found scattered across several counties and states,"
said Dr. Hillman. "We urge owners and private veterinary practitioners
to report clinical signs of the disease to their state veterinarians'
offices. A disease investigation will be conducted, with laboratory tests
run at the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa. There
is no charge for these services."
Signs of VSwhich include blisters, open sores or erosions in an animal's
mouth, on the muzzle, teats or hooves--mimic those of foot-and-mouth disease
(FMD), an extremely dangerous and highly contagious foreign animal disease
that can affect cattle, sheep, swine and deer, but not horses. Laboratory
testing is needed to differentiate between VS and FMD, or to determine
if the animals had contact with a toxic plant or poison.
During a VS outbreak, animal health officials across the country may
place additional testing requirements or restrictions on livestock originating
from states with infection. The TAHC has directed private veterinary practitioners
to carefully inspect animals for VS, and document the exam on certificates
of veterinary inspection (health papers) issued for livestock leaving
Texas. A similar statement also is required on paperwork for livestock
entering Texas from other states with VS infection. Dr. Hillman recommended
producers or veterinarians check with each state of destination prior
to shipping livestock.
"To help prevent VS, control biting flies," said Dr. England.
"Keep horses and other equine animals under a roof at night and keep
stalls clean to reduce exposure to flies. If you borrow equipment or tools
from another rancher, disinfect them before using them. At shows, on trail
rides or other events, make sure your animals are fed and watered from
their own buckets or troughs. If your horses, cattle, sheep, deer or other
livestock develop blisters or open sores indicative of VS, call your practitioner
and state veterinarian's office."
The TAHC hotline is operational 24 hours a day at 1-800-550-8242, with
a TAHC or U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinarian always on call to
take reports and work with veterinary practitioners. In New Mexico, producers
should make reports to the New Mexico Livestock Board at 505-841-6161.