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Vesicular stomatitis cases prompt new livestock rules

News Release Distributed 07/01/14

BATON ROUGE, La. – Because of the increasing number of confirmed cases of vesicular stomatitis, animal health officials with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry are requiring additional documentation on horses entering Louisiana from any state that has confirmed cases of the disease, according to LSU AgCenter equine specialist Neely Walker.

Ten horses in southwest Texas were recently diagnosed with vesicular stomatitis. Farms in four counties are under quarantine by the Texas Animal Health Commission.

Now, any livestock – horses, cattle, pigs, goats and sheep – that enter Louisiana from a county where vesicular stomatitis has been diagnosed within the last 30 days must be accompanied by a certificate showing they do not have the virus.

“Vesicular stomatitis is a viral disease that afflicts livestock, wildlife and humans,” Walker said. “The incubation period is two to eight days, and it is typically followed by a fever.”

In livestock, the virus causes blister-like lesions on the tongue, mouth, nose and lips. The disease typically resolves itself in 10 to 14 days, Walker said, so secondary symptoms such as loss of appetite due to oral lesions and lameness due to foot lesions are normally short-lived.

In humans, vesicular stomatitis may last between three and five days, causing headaches, fever, muscle pain and weakness, Walker said. In very rare occasions, humans can also develop lesions in the mouth, lips and nose.

Currently no specific treatment is required, Walker said. She recommends disinfecting lesions with mild antiseptics to prevent secondary bacterial infections. If an infection occurs around the sores, treatment with antibiotics may be required. Anti-inflammatory medications may also be used to reduce swelling and pain and ensure horses continue to eat and drink, she said.

Vesicular stomatitis is transmitted through black flies and sand flies, which are often found near moving waters, such as creeks, rivers and pasture irrigation, Walker said. The virus can then be spread by infected animals and objects they come in contact with as well as blood-feeding insects.

To help prevent vesicular stomatitis, Walker recommends the following:

– Isolate new horses for a minimum of 21 days before introducing them into a herd.

– Create an insect control program.

– Keep horses pastured away from moving water.

– Use individual feeders and equipment.

– Regularly clean feeders, waterers, horse trailers and other farm equipment.

"While this disease is rarely fatal, it is a reportable disease, and in a suspect case, state and federal animal health authorities will be contacted,” Walker said. “If vesicular stomatitis is diagnosed, the affected farm will be placed under quarantine for a minimum of 30 days.”

If you suspect your horse has been exposed to or may have vesicular stomatitis, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Olivia McClure
Last Updated: 7/1/2014 10:56:16 AM

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