Livestock producers in the southeast are reminded to be vigilant in their biosecurity practices to protect against the vesicular stomatitis virus. Just last week, the disease caused by this virus, vesicular stomatitis (VS), was diagnosed in horses in Arkansas, dangerously close to our state’s northwestern border. A nationally reportable disease, sporadic outbreaks of VS have been occurring in the US over the past few years, mostly in southwestern states.
Vesicular stomatitis causes blisters and sores in the mouth and on the tongue, muzzle, teats or hooves of cattle, horses, donkeys, sheep, goats, and other livestock. Crusty, raw, painful lesions from the broken blisters are normally noticed first in affected animals. Of great concern to our industry is that the disease closely resembles foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), a highly contagious disease of cloven-hooved animals which can have more severe signs and even worse economic consequences in the livestock markets. The only way to differentiate the two diseases is through diagnostic testing, and the fact that FMD does not affect horses.
The virus is spread through insect vectors (ticks, midges, flies, etc.), contaminated equipment, and direct contact with the lesions or fluids of affected animals, so good biosecurity practices and parasite contro are crucial to keeping this disease out of your herd.
If you have further questions or see unusual or unexpected disease conditions in your herd, contact your herd veterinarian or a state animal health official as soon as possible.
More information on VS can be found on the USDA website:
Photos: USDA APHIS VS