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Horses test positive for viral disease in CO, NE animal owners should stay aware

Posted at 5:01 PM, Jul 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-05 18:01:55-04

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) says cattle and horse owners in the state should take precautions after two horses in Colorado tested positive for a viral disease.

Two horses in Colorado on two separate premises recently tested positive for vesicular stomatitis (VS), a viral disease primarily affecting horses and cattle. The NDA wants cattle and horse owners to be especially aware in the coming months, especially with animals that could be commingling with other animals at events.

VS is characterized by a fever and the formation of blister-like lesions in the mouth and on the dental pad, tongue, lips, nostrils, hooves and teats, the NDA says.

When the blisters break, salivation and nasal discharge typically follows. As a result of the painful lesions, animals who are infected often refuse to eat or drink, which could lead to weight loss. No USDA-approved vaccines exist for VS.

The virus is most often transmitted from biting insects like black flies, sand flies and midges--so the NDA says owners should consider treatments to reduce insects where animals are housed.

VS can also be spread by nose-to-nose contact between animals. Typically, the virus runs its course in five to seven days and can take up to an additional seven days for the infected animal to recover from symptoms.

At this time, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas all have confirmed VS cases.

The NDA has importation orders in place to help prevent the spread of the disease into Nebraska. They ask anyone considering moving an animal to Nebraska from an affected state to call 402-471-2351.

“Protecting the health and safety of Nebraska’s animals is of the utmost importance in the state,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Dennis Hughes. “Vesicular Stomatitis resembles Foot-and-Mouth Disease in the early stages, and I ask that all producers continue to be vigilant in importing animals into Nebraska.”

The animals in Colorado that have tested positive for VS are under quarantine and will remain there until at least 14 days after the onset of lesions in the last affected animals, the NDA says.

Rarely are humans infected with VS when handling affected animals. To avoid human exposure, people should use personal protective measures when handling diseased animals.

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