Vesicular stomatitis cases confirmed in 14 Colorado counties
The Colorado Department of Agriculture has confirmed cases of vesicular stomatitis in multiple Colorado counties, including those on the Western Slope, according to a news release this week.
Among the counties with confirmed cases are Adams, Archuleta, Boulder, Broomfield, Conejos, Delta, Jefferson, La Plata, Larimer, Mesa, Montezuma, Montrose, Morgan, and Weld.
All VSV cases are important for the epidemiology and management of this outbreak and must be reported to the State Veterinarian’s Office at 303-869-9130, regardless if the owner and veterinarian decide to have their livestock tested or choose to manage as positive premises based on the presence of typical clinical signs without testing. The only cases that may be managed as suspect positive are equine cases located in counties that have confirmed cases.
While an individual equine case may not seem vitally important, the case numbers and case management as a whole (diagnostics, movement restrictions, issuance of hold orders and quarantines) are critical.
“It is of utmost importance that livestock owners report VSV occurrences and comply with hold or quarantine orders to limit the potential for disease spread in this VSV outbreak.” said Colorado State Veterinarian Dr. Keith Roehr.
1. Before you come, check your horses. Do not even put them in the trailer if you see any signs of illness. This includes blisters, sores, and flaking of skin in the mouth, on the tongue, on the muzzle and ears, and above the hooves. If one has any sign, assume the rest of the horses on the property do too.
2. Get and bring really good fly spray. Use lots of it, especially around the ears, feet and underbelly. Spray the inside of your trailer before you leave home and before you leave the Moffat County Arena.
3. Avoid horse to horse contact. Separate your horse from others during shows and the rodeo. No nose-to-nose contact.
4. Don’t share tack, feeding, watering or grooming equipment.
5. Don’t tie your horse where other horses have been tied. If possible, have someone hold your horse or tie it to your trailer.
6. Sorry, but no petting. Please, keep your hands off other horses and avoid letting other people handle your horse. Use hand sanitizer frequently.
7. If you have a new horse that hasn’t had the proper quarantine period please either do not bring them to the fair or rodeo or have a vet certify that they are healthy before you bring them.
8. As much as possible, please pick up and dispose of your manure; especially at your trailer.
Equine owners and livestock producers across the state are impacted by VSV; all livestock owners should carefully watch the case numbers and affected counties to gauge their level of risk and institute mitigation measures.
The first case of VSV in Colorado was reported on July 3 in Weld County by a field veterinarian from the State Veterinarian’s Office at the Colorado Department of Agriculture. An incursion of VSV-infected insect vectors is the likely source of infection. There are no USDA approved vaccines for VSV.
Vesicular stomatitis is a viral disease that primarily affects horses and cattle but occasionally swine, sheep, goats, llamas, and alpacas will show clinical signs. The transmission process of VSV is not completely understood, but includes insect vectors such as black flies, sand flies, and biting midges.
The incubation period ranges from two to eight days. Clinical signs include vesicles, erosions, and sloughing of the skin on the muzzle, tongue, ears, teats, and coronary bands. Often excessive salivation is the first sign of disease, along with a reluctance to eat or drink. Lameness and weight loss may follow.
Humans may become infected when handling affected animals, but this is a rare event. To avoid human exposure, individuals should use personal protective measures when handling affected animals.
Tips for Livestock Owners
• Strict fly control is an important factor to inhibit the transmission of the disease.
• Avoid transferring feeding equipment, cleaning tools or health care equipment from other herds.
• Colorado veterinarians and livestock owners should contact the state of destination when moving livestock interstate to ensure that all import requirements are met.
• Colorado fairs, livestock exhibitions, and rodeos may institute new entry requirements based on the extent and severity of the current VS outbreak. Certificates of veterinary inspection (CVIs or health certificates) issued within 2 to 5 days prior to an event can be beneficial in reducing risks. Be sure to stay informed of any new livestock event requirements. See the Vesicular Stomatitis Guidelines for Shows and Fairs.
Any vesicular disease of livestock is reportable to the State Veterinarian’s Office in Colorado — to report call 303-869-9130. If after hours, the voice message will indicate which staff veterinarian on call.
With wildfire season upon us and a 170-acre fire already burning near the border of Routt and Moffat counties, anyone with breathing or respiratory issues should pay close attention to air quality.