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Northwest Iowa Dairy Outlooks

A local discussion of current science and issues concerning dairying in northwest iowa

On April 30, 2012, the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa, confirmed a finding of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) infection (New Jersey serotype) on an equine premise in Otero County, New Mexico. The two affected horses had clinical signs and positive VSV serology. Three other horses on the premises show no clinical signs of disease. The premiss is currently under State quarantine. As of May 20, no new VSV-positive premises have been identified in the United States.

Vesicular stomatitis is a viral disease that primarily affects horses and cattle and occasionally swine, sheep, goats, llamas, and alpacas. Humans can also become infected with the disease when handling affected animals, but this is a rare event. In the past decade, the Southwestern and Western United States have experienced a number of vesicular stomatitis outbreaks. Outbreaks usually occur during the warmer months, often along waterways. In some years, only a few premises in a single State have been affected. However, in other years, multiple States and many premises have been involved.

Premises containing affected animals are quarantined until 21 days after the lesions in the last affected animals have healed. As a result, quarantine periods can be lengthy.

In affected livestock, the incubation period for vesicular stomatitis ranges from 2 to 8 days. Often, excessive salivation is the first sign of the disease. Close examination of the mouth initially reveals blanched and raised vesicles or blister-like lesions on the inner surfaces of the lips, gums, tongue, and/or dental pad. In addition, these blister-like lesions can form on the lips, nostrils, coronary band, prepuce, vulva, and teats. The blisters swell and break, which causes oral pain and discomfort and reluctance to eat or drink. Lameness and severe weight loss may follow. Body temperature may rise immediately before or at the same time lesions first appear.

Vigilance is recommended, especially if you come in contact with horses from the infected area.

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