With the current Vesicular Stomatitis (VS) outbreak in Colorado, we’ve decided to share some information about the disease.
- Symptoms- The disease typically starts with a fever. After that fever, there can be over excessive salvation, followed by blister-like lesions inside the mouth, around lips, nostrils, coronary band, and sometimes abdomen. These blisters may burst, causing pain when eating and drinking, which your horse may begin refusing to do. The skin on the tongue may also begin to slough off. Keep an eye on your horse’s mouth if you suspect he has caught VS.
A horse cannot be diagnosed on symptoms alone. Tests must be run to confirm the disease.
- Transmission- One of the main culprits is blood-sucking insects. Increase pest control, especially if you are in an area with a confirmed VS case. The disease is also thought to be spread from the saliva and blister-fluid of infected animals. Please note that VS also affects cows, pigs, sheep, goats, llamas, and alpacas. Humans can also contract the disease, although less common. It manifests itself in influenza-like symptoms in humans.
- Quarantine- If you suspect or have confirmed your horse to have VS, report to the state animal health authorities and quarantine infected animal(s) immediately. Keep them stabled if possible. Increase pest control to protect un-infected animals. When handling the infected horse, use separate brushes, feed/water buckets, blankets, etc.; also use gloves and/or sanitize your hands well after handling the infected horse to prevent contracting or spreading Vesicular Stomatitis yourself. The USDA recommends not moving animals from the infected premises until 21 days after the lesions on the last infected animal have healed.
If you follow our Facebook page, we share the Colorado VS report updates as they come available.
This post is a summary of the USDA fact sheet. To read this fact sheet (written in May, 2012), click here.