New Mexico Horses Stricken by Vesicular StomatitisBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · July 3, 2012
At least 11 horse premises in New Mexico are under quarantine for vesicular stomatitis (VS). The disease is usually not fatal, but can cause painful mouth sores for the animals. VS is costly to owners because the animals are reluctant to eat, slowing weight gain.
Species susceptible to VS include horses, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, bison, deer, and some other animals. The clinical signs of the disease include sores and blisters in the mouth and above the hoof, skin erosions, and sloughing of the skin on the muzzle, tongue, teats and above the hooves of susceptible livestock. Vesicles (watery blisters) are usually seen early in the course of the disease.
Human cases of VS can occur occasionally, usually among those who handle infected animals. VS in humans causes flu-like symptoms and often does not include the typical lesions or blisters seen on livestock with the disease.
VS is thought to be spread by insects that migrate along river valleys. There is no vaccine to protect animals against VS. Once cases appear, VS generally remains active in a region until hard freezes occur in the late fall or winter. Livestock owners in adjoining states are warned to take added precautions due to the proximity of the virus. Anyone transporting animals in an area where VS has been reported should check with state agricultural officials to see what regulations are in place related to the disease.
Some management steps that may reduce the chances of having VS spread to new herds and properties are:
• Use insect repellant products, fly sheets, and other measures to keep biting insects off animals.
• Take steps to control or eliminate sites where biting insects such as flies or mosquitoes might multiply.
• Check animals daily for mouth lesions or other signs suggesting the presence of the disease, and report any suspicious lesions to a veterinarian or to the state veterinarian’s office immediately.
• Avoid travel to areas where active cases are documented or to areas considered to be at risk for spread of the disease.