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Nebraska Department of Agriculture warns of viral animal disease

Posted at 2:23 PM, Jul 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-07 15:23:11-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Nebraska Department of Agriculture wants horse and cattle owners to be aware of a disease going around in other states that currently has no cure.

Life on an equestrian facility is simple and beautiful; however, something's throwing a wrench in this relaxed and tame lifestyle. It's called vesicular stomatitis or VS.

VS is a viral disease that's affected several horses and other animals across the nation--and it's making local horse owner Jodee Barnes nervous.

"It's new--there's no vaccine for it yet,” said Barnes. “They just discovered it as far as what I've heard from the media.”

According to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, there’s been two confirmed cases of VS in Colorado.

"A horse does get a fever and stops eating and drinking,” said Barnes.

With how easy it can spread and no vaccine available, the disease can have devastating consequences.

"The end result is the animal dies."

The virus is transmitted primarily through biting insects like black flies.

"Try to get the best fly control that you can get for your horse as far as equipment and sprays,” said Barnes. “Our horses all wear fly masks and fly boots and then we spray them with fly sprays that kill, not just repel."

VS can also be transmitted from one infected horse to another, nose to nose. Traveling horse owners need to be careful and aware.

"If you did travel with your horses, spray them at home I would think would be a good idea and then spray inside your trailer.”

For small, local equestrian facilities, it's important that people take extra precaution with their animals to stop the spread of this disease in its tracks--because this light and easygoing lifestyle could all be gone.

And for Barnes, these animals are more than just animals--it's her livelihood.

"I don't think you can be too careful with that kind of thing,” said Barnes. "It'd be devastating. You could potentially lose your whole herd--and for a horse business, that would ruin you.”

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