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Nebraska confirms first vesicular stomatitis case in horse

Five states report confirmed cases of VS so far in 2020, but only three currently have premises under quarantine.

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) has confirmed a case of vesicular stomatitis (VS), Indiana serotype, in a horse in Buffalo County (near Kearney, Neb.).

NDA said the horses on the infected premises have been quarantined. At present time, one additional horse on the premises is also exhibiting VS symptoms. All animals on the infected premises will be quarantined for at least 14 days after the onset of lesions in the last affected animal.

VS is a viral disease that affects primarily horses and cattle but can also affect sheep, goats and swine. The disease is characterized by fever and the formation of blister-like lesions in the mouth and on the dental pad, tongue, lips, nostrils, hooves and teats. When the blisters break, there is usually salivation and nasal discharge. As a result of these painful lesions, infected animals may refuse to eat and drink, which can lead to weight loss.

“Vesicular stomatitis is primarily transmitted through the bite of infected black flies, sand flies and midges,” Nebraska state veterinarian Dr. Dennis Hughes said. “There are things livestock owners can do to reduce flies and other insects where animals are housed, but until freezing temperatures move in and kill the insects that spread the virus, VS will continue to be a threat in Nebraska.

“Since VS can also spread by contact between animals and by shared equipment, like tools or tack, we want livestock owners to be aware and practice good biosecurity measures with their animals, particularly with animals that may comingle with others,” Hughes added.

Situational update

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, since the 2020 VS outbreak began in April, 77 premises in five states -- New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Kansas and Nebraska -- have been confirmed with VS, and 73 of those premises are equine only.

As of June 24, USDA said 35 premises remain under quarantine for VS in Arizona, Kansas and Nebraska.

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