Colorado VS: 42 Locations Quarantined in 14 Counties

Colorado VS: 42 Locations Quarantined in 14 Counties

Photo: Brian McCluskey

As of  Oct 7, 2015, the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s (CDA) state veterinarian’s office has 42 locations in 14 counties under quarantine after horses, mules, and cattle herds tested positive for vesicular stomatitis (VS).

County Number of Currently Quarantined Premises Number of Quarantines Released
Archuleta 1 10
Boulder 1 2
Chaffee 0 1
Conejos 0 4
Delta 2 37
Douglas 0 1
Fremont 5 0
Garfield 4 0
Gunnison 0 1
Jefferson 0 7
La Plata 0 13
Larimer 2 45
Las Animas 0 2
Logan 1 0
Mesa 5 42
Mineral 1 0
Moffat 1 0
Montezuma 0 11
Montrose 1 37
Ouray 0 4
Pueblo 0 1
Rio Blanco 0 2
Rio Grande 2 3
Routt 0 1
Washington 1 0
Weld 14 9
Totals 42 234

“The prolonged warm temperatures in this season have been favorable for vesicular stomatitis transmission,” said State Veterinarian Keith Roehr, DVM. “It is important for livestock owners to continue with fly control until we have a hard freeze as flies are the main means of transfer of VS. I encourage all livestock owners to be aware of their county status and take the proper precautions to prevent insect populations on their property.”

A 2014 outbreak of VS created 556 livestock investigations in Colorado resulting in 370 quarantines with the final quarantines released in January 2015.

A number of species are susceptible to VS, including horses, mules, cattle, bison, sheep, goats, pigs, and camelids. The clinical signs of the disease include vesicles, erosions, and sloughing of the skin on the muzzle, tongue, and teats and above the hooves of susceptible livestock. Vesicles are usually only seen early in the course of the disease.

Livestock owners who suspect an animal may have VS or any other vesicular disease should immediately contact their local veterinarian. Livestock with clinical signs of VS are isolated until they are determined to be of no further threat for disease spread. There are no USDA-approved vaccines for VS. While rare, human cases of VS can occur, usually among those who handle infected animals. VS in humans can cause flu-like symptoms and only rarely includes lesions or blisters.

As VS reappears in Colorado, concerned horse owners want to know what they can do to protect their horses. The state veterinarian’s office receives many calls requesting the location of horses and premises affected by VS, however, Colorado has a state statute called the “Confidentiality of Livestock Information” which protects livestock producers’ operational information and animal disease information—this statute includes horse and location information (C.R.S. 35-57.9-103), according to the CDA.

“While we cannot disclose the exact location of the infected livestock, it is not very contagious from animal to animal,” said Roehr. “The primary method of spread is through insect vectors, primarily biting flies. The key to remember is to take steps to reduce the fly populations near livestock.

“The virus typically causes oral blisters and sores that can be painful causing difficulty in eating and drinking,” he continued. “We are closing in on the fair and show season and we want to remind livestock owners to practice vigilant disease mitigation practices to protect their animals.”

Owners can remember the following tips:

  • 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. A list of contact information for all state veterinarians’ offices is available at and click on "Import Requirements."
  • Colorado fairs, livestock exhibitions, and rodeos could institute new entry requirements based on the extent and severity of VS outbreaks. Certificates of veterinary inspections issued two to five days prior to an event can beneficial to reduce risks. Be sure to stay informed of any new livestock event requirements.
  • During an event, important VS disease prevention procedures include minimizing the sharing of water and feed/equipment, applying insect repellent daily (especially to the animals ears), and closely observing animals for signs of VS.
  • If moving livestock internationally please contact the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Veterinary Services’ Colorado office at 303/231-5385 to determine if there are any movement restrictions or testing requirements for VS.

During an event, important VS disease prevention procedures include minimizing the sharing of water and feed/equipment, applying insect repellent daily (especially to the animal’s ears), and closely observing animals for signs of vesicular stomatitis.

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