North Dakota State Vet Modifies Waiver on Livestock Import Requirements

An outbreak of vesicular stomatitis (VS) in Montana, Wyoming and other states has led North Dakota's state veterinarian to modify a long-standing exemption allowing transport of livestock from a farm or ranch to an auction market without a health certificate.

"Until further notice, all cattle, sheep, bison, and horses from any state currently reporting VS must have a health certificate, permit number, and VS statement to be brought to a North Dakota auction market," State Veterinarian Susan Keller, DVM, said Aug. 23. "The waiver that allows cattle, sheep and bison to move from a producer's premises directly to an auction market without a certificate of veterinary inspection is suspended with respect to states with VS."

States that have VS-positive cases presently include Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.

North Dakota's animal import requirements, including an emergency notice on vesicular stomatitis, can be found at www.agdepartment.com/Programs/Livestock/BOAH/AnimalImportation.htm.

Vesicular stomatitis is a viral disease affecting horses, cattle, swine, goats, and other animals. It causes blisterlike lesions to form in the mouth and on the dental pad, tongue, lips, nostrils, hooves, and teats. These blisters swell and break, leaving raw tissue that is so painful that infected animals generally refuse to eat or drink and show signs of lameness. Severe weight loss usually follows, and in dairy cows, a severe drop in milk production commonly occurs. Although rarely fatal, VS can cause animals to go off feed, become lame, or lose milk production until the lesions heal.

In addition to causing economic loss to producers, VS is particularly significant because its symptoms resemble those of the far more serious foot and mouth disease. Laboratory tests are required to distinguish the two diseases from the other.

"It is important that we take reasonable precautions to prevent the introduction of this disease into North Dakota," Keller said, adding that the order will remain in effect until the threat of VS in the upper Midwest is substantially reduced.

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