CDA Issues 2012 Colorado Livestock Disease Recap

The Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) and horse and livestock owners in that state have had a busy summer protecting livestock from diseases that affected this state's largest agricultural sector: the animal industry.

"The collaboration between livestock producers, private practice veterinarians, our veterinary diagnostic laboratories and our Department were important in reducing the risks and mitigating the effects of livestock disease in our state," said CDA's State Veterinarian Keith Roehr, DVM. "In ... disease investigations, the timely and effective laboratory diagnostics at the Colorado State University's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory were vitally important."

To date in 2012, authorities have investigated the following equine-related disease outbreaks:

Anthrax: This investigation began in 2012. In all, approximately 55 cattle died due to an anthrax outbreak; four Logan County premises were quarantined and subsequently released after fulfilling disease control requirements. Although no horses in Colorado contracted the disease this year, owners in affected areas should be on the lookout, as the disease can prove fatal for equids. Anthrax can develop naturally in soil; the spores can become active in association with periods of marked climatic or ecologic change such as heavy rainfall, flooding or drought which can then expose the anthrax spores to grazing livestock. In these areas the spores apparently revert to the vegetative form and multiply to infectious levels so that cattle, horses, mules, sheep and goats can readily become infected when grazing such areas.

Equine Herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1): In early May, one horse residing in Douglas County tested positive for EHV-1. Prior to exhibiting signs of disease the affected horse had recently traveled to Colorado from Iowa. This horse was euthanized after showing severe neurological signs associated with the disease. After the initial case was diagnosed, several exposed horses were monitored closely and fortunately there was no further spread of disease. Good preventative disease measures instituted by the horse owners helped to control any possible disease spread. EHV-1 is not transmissible to people; however, it can be a serious disease of horses that can cause respiratory, neurologic disease, and death. The most common way for EHV-1 to spread is by direct horse-to-horse contact. The virus can also spread through the air, contaminated tack and equipment, clothing, and hands.

Vesicular Stomatitis (VS): Two quarantines were issued in August after two horses in Las Animas and Conejos County tested positive for VS; the quarantines have now been lifted. The state veterinarian's office continues its travel requirement for horses, mules, cattle, bison, sheep, goats, swine, and camelids entering the state from states with confirmed cases of VS. This requirement states that health certificates should include the following statement from the issuing veterinarian, "I have examined the animal(s) represented on this Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) and have found no signs of vesicular stomatitis and they have not originated from a premises under quarantine for vesicular stomatitis."

West Nile Virus (WNV): The number of equine cases of WNV increased in 2012. The 14 cases were spread throughout a wide area of Colorado as there were horses diagnosed in Delta, Fremont County, La Plata, Larimer, Mesa, Montrose, Pueblo, and Weld County. Horse owners should consider vaccination and insect control as effective tools to prevent disease.

"Livestock move throughout the state and across the country on a daily basis making investigating and monitoring livestock diseases an enormous task but the state veterinarian's office is committed to doing our best to protect the health of the animals and the economy of the livestock industry," said Roehr.

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