VS Case Count Climbs in Texas

Six more premises in Texas have horses with confirmed cases of vesicular stomatitis (VS), reports the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC). The most recent cases, were confirmed this week through laboratory tests, and include horses on a ranch in Uvalde County and, in south Texas, horses on four premises in Starr County, and one premises near Carrizo Springs in Dimmitt County.
Thirteen premises now are under quarantine in Texas and New Mexico because of the sporadically occurring VS virus that can cause affected livestock to develop painful blisters in the mouth, on the tongue, above the hooves, or on the teats. To date, the infection has been confined to about 25 horses in both states, but cattle, goats, swine, deer and some other livestock may be affected. The disease is thought to be transmitted by sand flies and black flies, but all aspects of the disease are not fully understood, because outbreaks occur infrequently. This year’s outbreak, the first since 1998, began in mid-May and could potentially continue until late fall. In addition to the most recent cases, a ranch in each of the following counties remains under quarantine:

  • One ranch in Reeves County in far west Texas, the first case confirmed this year;
  • One ranch in Yoakum County, near Denver City, about 80 miles southwest of Lubbock; and
  • One ranch in Val Verde County, about 150 miles west of San Antonio.

Horses on four small premises in New Mexico, near Carlsbad, also are quarantined because of VS.
VS-infected animals, and all other susceptible livestock, are confined to their premise until 30 days after all lesions heal. This helps assure that infected animals do not spread the disease through direct contact with other livestock. Affected animals may become weak, due to their inability to eat, due to blisters or erosions in their mouth or around their muzzles. While generally not life-threatening, care should be taken to assure that infected animals do not develop secondary infections, due to open sores that may require several weeks to heal.  Prior to quarantine release, the animals will be re-examined by a state or federal regulatory veterinarian, to ensure healing
States may place additional testing requirements or restrictions on livestock originating from states with VS infection, so owners and private veterinary practitioners are urged to check with receiving states prior to shipping animals. 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. 
Owners and practitioners are urged to contact state livestock health officials, if they see potential signs of VS in livestock, so laboratory confirmation tests may be conducted. In Texas, the TAHC is operational 24 hours a day at 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.

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