The Arizona Department of Agriculture has confirmed the diagnosis of Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) in horses located in Cochise County in that state. The case-positive premises where VSV was discovered are now under quarantine.
VSV causes blister-like lesions to form in the mouth and on the dental pad, tongue, lips, nostrils, hooves (coronet), and teats. These blisters swell and break, leaving raw tissue that is so painful that infected animals generally refuse to eat or drink and show signs of lameness. Severe weight loss usually follows, and in dairy cows, a severe drop in milk production commonly occurs. Affected dairy cattle can appear to be normal and will continue to eat about half of their feed intake.
Why is this important? While vesicular stomatitis can cause economic losses to livestock producers, it is a particularly significant disease because its outward signs are similar to (although generally less severe than) those of foot-and-mouth disease, a foreign animal disease of cloven-hoofed animals that was eradicated from the United States in 1929. The clinical signs of vesicular stomatitis are also similar to those of swine vesicular disease, another foreign animal disease. The only way to tell these diseases apart is through laboratory tests.
Humans can also become infected with vesicular stomatitis when handling affected animals. However, Arizona has no human cases to report. While horses, swine and cattle are most at risk, other animals may also contract the disease.
In 2009, Texas and New Mexico reported cases of VSV. In 2010, Arizona is the first state to detect the disease, which occurs sporadically on 5 to 8 year cycles.
Vesicular stomatitis is most likely to occur during warm months in the southwestern United States, particularly along riverways and in valleys. Arizona last had confirmed cases of VSV in the spring of 2005.
The following actions have been recommended to the owners of the horses:
? Separate animals with lesions from healthy animals, preferably by stabling. Animals on pastures apparently are affected more frequently with this disease.
? As a precautionary measure, do not move animals from premises affected by vesicular stomatitis for at least 30 days after the last lesion found has healed.
? Implement on-farm insect control programs that include the elimination or reduction of insect breeding areas and the use of insecticide sprays or insecticide-treated eartags on animals.
? Use protective measures when handling affected animals to avoid human exposure to this disease.
If any readers of The Jurga Report or Equisearch.com suspect that they have an animal or animals with this problem, they should immediately contact their veterinarians or the Arizona State Veterinarian's office at 602-542-4293.
The information for this blog post was provided by Dr. John Hunt of the Arizona Department of Agriculture.