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Nebraska confirms vesicular stomatitis case in horse (Updated)

Nebraska becomes fifth state to report disease this year. USDA updates national outbreak status.

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) has confirmed a case of vesicular stomatitis (VS) in a horse in Lincoln County in western Nebraska (North Platte is the county seat of Lincoln County, but NDA did not release specific location of premises).

This is the first case of VS in Nebraska since 2015, NDA said.

“Protecting the health and safety of Nebraska’s animals is of the utmost importance in the state,” Nebraska state veterinarian Dr. Dennis Hughes said. “Unfortunately, based on VS confirmations in other states and transmission patterns, it was not unexpected to see this disease show up in Nebraska.

“We want horse and cattle owners to be aware and consider taking precautions, particularly with animals that may be commingling with other animals at events over the next several months, especially now that we know the disease is in Nebraska,” Hughes said.

VS is a viral disease that primarily affects 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. There are no U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved vaccines for VS.

NDA said it has quarantined the livestock on the affected farm. The farm will remain under quarantine for at least 14 days after the onset of lesions in the last affected animal on the premises.

The VS virus is transmitted primarily through the bites of infected insects or midges, so NDA suggested considering treatments to reduce flies and other insects in quarters where animals are housed. VS also can be spread by nose-to-nose contact between animals.

“Freezing temperatures kill the insects that spread the virus, so until cold weather moves in, VS will continue to be a threat,” Hughes said.

Nationally, VS has also been detected in Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming, mostly in horses, but in its Aug. 9 situation update, USDA noted two premises with clinically affected bovines: one each in Texas and Colorado.

The Aug. 9 USDA report indicated a cumulative total of 665 affected premises in five states, with 663 of those premises housing only horses.

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