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Three Santa Cruz County properties quarantined due to Vesicular Stomatitis Virus

Two horses in Santa Cruz County have been confirmed with Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV). It causes blister-like sores on the mouths, noses and sometimes feet of infected animals. One animal was moved to its owner’s nearby property prior to the investigation; three properties and all the animals on them are under quarantine.

“Vesicular Stomatitis Virus mainly affects equine and to a lesser extent cattle and swine,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Perry Durham. “It can be painful for animals and costly to deal with.”

The blisters are most likely to affect the mouth, the tongue and around the nose/muzzle. They can be painful causing difficulty in eating and drinking. If cattle are infected, often the hooves and teats are involved leading to severe economic impact in dairy cattle. This also generates worries because the disease is basically indistinguishable from Foot and Mouth Disease in cattle.

The horses involved have no history of travel. Other livestock located on the premises show no signs of disease. A United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) official initially investigated and then brought the Arizona Department of Agriculture into the investigation. Investigation of the situation is on-going to detect and prevent further spread.

Veterinarians and livestock owners who suspect an animal may have Vesicular Stomatitis or any other vesicular disease should immediately contact State or Federal animal health authorities. Livestock with clinical signs of Vesicular Stomatitis are isolated until they are healed and determined to be of no further threat for disease spread. There are no USDA approved vaccines for Vesicular Stomatitis.

Though very unusual, people can be infected with the virus. In these situations, it is usually among those who handle infected animals (for example while inspecting a horse’s mouth and the horse coughs in the person’s face thereby delivering a large dose of virus onto the person’s eyes and lips). Vesicular Stomatitis Virus can cause flu-like symptoms and only rarely includes lesions or blisters in people.

More information about Vesicular Stomatitis is available online.

Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) Signs and Transmission:

VSV susceptible species include horses, mules, cattle, bison, sheep, goats, pigs, and camelids. The clinical signs of the disease include vesicles, erosions and sloughing of the skin on the muzzle, tongue, teats and above the hooves of susceptible livestock. Vesicles are usually only seen early in the course of the disease. The transmission of Vesicular Stomatitis is not completely understood but components include insect vectors, mechanical transmission, and livestock movement.

Tips for Livestock Owners:

  • Though not generally a problem this time of year, 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.
  • Veterinarians and livestock owners should contact the state of destination when moving livestock interstate to ensure that all import requirements are met.
  • During an exhibition or event, important VSV disease prevention procedures include minimizing the sharing of water and feed/equipment, applying insect repellent daily (especially to the animals ears), and closely observing animals for signs of VSV.
  • If moving livestock internationally please contact the USDA APHIS VS office in Albuquerque at 505.761.3160 to determine if there are any movement restrictions or testing requirements for VSV.

Important Points for Veterinarians:

  • Any vesicular disease of livestock is reportable to the State Veterinarian’s Office at 602.542.4293.
  • Since VSV is considered a foreign animal disease, any case with clinical signs consistent with VSV will warrant an investigation by a state or federal foreign animal disease diagnostician (FADD). 433 premises were confirmed with VSV in the states of CO, NE, and TX during 2014. VSV has been previously diagnosed in AZ during 2010 and 2005.


Online resources for Vesicular Stomatitis Virus:

Fast Facts: http://www.cfsph.iastate.edu/FastFacts/pdfs/vesicular_stomatitis_F.pdf
Details: http://www.cfsph.iastate.edu/Factsheets/pdfs/vesicular_stomatitis.pdf
For further information on the virus, the disease, or the epidemic of 2014, please see http://www.aphis.usda.gov – Vesicular Stomatitis

Source: Arizona Department of Agriculture