Two cases of vesicular stomatitis have been confirmed in Montrose County, according to the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

Vesicular stomatitis, or VSV, is a viral disease primarily affecting horses and cattle, but also sometimes swine, sheep, goats, llamas and alpacas.

In addition to Montrose County, VSV has been confirmed in Adams, Archuleta, Boulder, Broomfield, Conejos, Delta, Jefferson, La Plata, Larimer, Mesa, Montezuma,Morgan and Weld counties.

All VSV cases are important for the epidemiology and management of this outbreak and must be reported to the State Veterinarian’s Office at 303-869-9130, regardless if the owner and veterinarian decide to have their livestock tested or choose to manage as positive premises based on the presence of typical clinical signs without testing. The only cases that may be managed as suspect positive are equine cases located in counties that have confirmed cases.

While an individual equine case may not seem vitally important, the case numbers and case management as a whole (diagnostics, movement restrictions, issuance of hold orders and quarantines) are critical. 

The transmission process of VSV is not completely understood, but includes insect vectors such as black flies, sand flies, and biting midges. 

The incubation period ranges from two to eight days. Clinical signs include vesicles, erosions, and sloughing of the skin on the muzzle, tongue, ears, teats, and coronary bands. Often excessive salivation is the first sign of disease, along with a reluctance to eat or drink. Lameness and weight loss may follow. 

Humans may become infected when handling affected animals, but this is a rare event.  To avoid human exposure, individuals should use personal protective measures when handling affected animals.

Tips for livestock owners

• Strict fly control is an important factor to inhibit the transmission of the disease.

• Avoid transferring feeding equipment, cleaning tools or health care equipment from other herds.

• Colorado veterinarians and livestock owners should contact the state of destination when moving livestock interstate to ensure that all import requirements are met. Contact information for all state veterinarian offices is listed here.  

• Colorado fairs, livestock exhibitions, and rodeos may institute new entry requirements based on the extent and severity of the current VS outbreak. Certificates of veterinary inspection (CVIs or health certificates) issued within 2-5 days prior to an event can be beneficial in reducing risks. Be sure to stay informed of any new livestock event requirements. See the Vesicular Stomatitis Guidelines for Shows and Fairs.  

Important points for veterinarians and horse owners:

Any vesicular disease of livestock is reportable to the State Veterinarian’s Office in Colorado – to report call 303-869-9130. If after hours, the voice message will indicate which staff veterinarian on call.

Information from the Colorado Department of Agriculture, via news release.

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