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All Vesicular Stomatitis Quarantines Released in Texas

Horse Health - Press Release

For the first time since May 19, Texas has no animals or herds restricted because of Vesicular Stomatitis (VS), a blistering disease that can temporarily debilitate affected equine animals, cattle, goats, deer, swine or other susceptible species.

VS occurs every few years in the Southwest, and the virus is thought to be transmitted by sand flies and black flies. Animals affected by the disease usually begin to heal several weeks after exhibiting blisters, sloughing of skin or sores in and around the mouth, above the hooves, or on the muzzle or teats.

"Texas was the first of three states to have VS infection this year. Throughout the summer, laboratory tests confirmed infection in horses and cattle on 15 Texas premises in eight counties," said Dr. Bob Hillman, Texas' state veterinarian and head of the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), the state's livestock and poultry health regulatory agency. "On October 18, the final Texas quarantine was released. This premise, in Kerr County, had been quarantined in early September, when VS infection was confirmed in a horse. We currently have no VS cases or quarantines, and no active VS investigations."

Texas counties with confirmed VS cases this summer were Reeves, Val Verde, Uvalde, Starr, Yoakum, Kerr, Bandera and Dimmit. Animal health officials lift premise quarantines 30 days after the animals heal from the VS lesions.

Dr. Hillman said that releasing the last VS quarantine in the state will make it easier to ship Texas livestock to other states. He recommended, however, that producers and private veterinary practitioners continue to check with states of destination prior to transporting animals to ensure all entry requirements are met.

As of mid-October, 107 premises in 22 Colorado counties, and 39 premises in eight New Mexico counties remain quarantined, due to VS infection. VS-infected animals in these states include horses, cattle, an alpaca, a llama and several sheep and goats.

"VS rarely causes death in affected animals, but it is painful to animals, due to blisters and sloughing of skin. When VS strikes cattle or other cloven-hooved animals, laboratory tests are essential, because VS lesions mimic those of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), a highly dangerous foreign animal disease," said Dr. Hillman. "Even though horses are not susceptible to FMD, we still recommend testing, to determine whether the lesions were caused by VS, a toxic plant or poison."

"As always, we urge producers to call their private veterinary practitioner and their state animal health officials if livestock or poultry exhibit unusual signs of disease," said Dr. Hillman. These signs may include blistering or sores around the animal's mouth, hooves or teats; widespread illness or unexpected death loss in a herd or flock; unusual ticks or maggots; or animals that stagger or are unable to rise or walk.

To make a report, owners and private veterinary practitioners should call the Texas Animal Health Commission at 800-550-8242, the New Mexico Livestock Board at 505-841-6161 or the Colorado Department of Agriculture State Veterinarian's Office at 303-239-4161.