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No Vesicular Stomatitis reported in 2006

June 28, 2006     E-mail this page to a friend!

By Phyllis Tryon

The good news this year about vesicular stomatitis is that so far, it has not been reported anywhere in the United States. Generally, if and when an outbreak occurs, it begins in the spring in south and southwestern states first, and then is found toward the north and northwestern states as summer moves along.

Montana State Veterinarian with the Department of Livestock, Dr. Thomas Linfield, reported on June 22 that “I have not heard of any outbreaks anywhere in the country this year. A year ago at this time we had several states affected already,” he noted.

“Right now, that’s a good indicator. We’re not seeing it pop up in the southwest somewhere. As a rule, it tends to start in one of the southwestern states and you’ll see a progression generally northward. At least right now, we haven’t seen any initial cases and no positive states.”

Last year’s outbreak created havoc with horse communities across the west, affecting the transport of horses for racing activities between states, across the border to Canada, and also affecting numerous other horse sports activities. The American Quarter Horse Association’s Region Two event to be held in South Dakota was canceled.

“I’m being cautiously optimistic that maybe we won’t see it anywhere in the country this year,” Dr. Linfield said. “You can’t be 100 percent certain and must recognize it has been in several western states in the past several years.”
He explained that last year’s outbreak was unusual in Montana.
“The previous outbreak was, I think, in 1983. It’s not something we routinely see here.”

He noted that although an outbreak may not be anticipated, awareness among horse owners and veterinarians of symptoms for detection is important.

Vesicular stomatitis is a highly contagious viral disease characterized by fever, vesicles, and subsequent blisters. The vesicles form on the mouth, tongue, lips, feet, teats, and mammary glands of affective animals. These vesicles or blisters tend to be large and very painful.

Animals are quarantined on premises where the virus is discovered for 21 days after all lesions heal in affected animals.

The virus affects a wide range of hosts. It primarily affects cattle, horses, and swine. This disease occasionally affects sheep and goats. Many species of wild animals, including deer, bobcats, goats, raccoons, and monkeys, have been affected. Humans can also become infected with vesicular stomatitis when handling affected animals.

Last year, the virus first surfaced in New Mexico on April 27. By May 2, the virus was additionally in Arizona, and by May 18 it was diagnosed on one premise in Texas. Texas did not have any additional premises affected in 2005. The virus eventually migrated to Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming during 2005.

Viral outbreaks tend to end at the beginning of winter.