The death of a horse recently in Fremont County has been attributed to vesicular stomatitis according to the Wyoming Livestock Board. Due to CDA privacy regulations, further details cannot be made available. Based on information provided in the Star Tribune Oct. 25, the Wyoming board has investigated 148 cases of vesicular stomatitis virus in 2015 that resulted in 128 quarantines.
The vesicular stomatitis virus has been identified in nine counties in Wyoming including Goshen, Platte, Sublette, Albany, Fremont, Converse, Weston, Natrona and Laramie counties. A new case, located in Crook County, is presently under close scrutiny.
According to state veterinarian Jim Logan, “New cases continue to be reported daily.” Because of higher level of incidences of the virus in other states, the Wyoming Livestock Board is responding with tighter control by requiring all imported livestock into the state to carry a current health certificate written within 14 days of entry into Wyoming. These stricter regulations have been implemented while infection and quarantines are occurring.
Vesicular stomatitis viral disease is quite contagious and can spread to other species that include cattle, swine, goats, sheep, horses and llamas. This disease can also spread to humans.
According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners:
Vesicular stomatitis also seems to be passed from horse to horse by contact with saliva or fluid from ruptured blisters. Physical contact between animals, or contact with buckets, equipment, housing, trailers, feed, bedding or other items used by an infected horse can provide a ready means of spread.
Animals that have contracted the virus will show clinical signs of blister-like lesions in the mouth, on lips, feet, udder, ears and genitals. Animals may also become anorexic and begin to slobber and froth at the mouth. Horses may become lame, and develop scabby or crusted lesions on muzzles. The virus causes oral blisters and sores that are painful and will cause eating and drinking problems.
Humans can contract this virus from infected horses and it is important to use precautions. If caring for a horse with the virus, the individual should wear latex gloves and avoid any direct contact with the horse’s saliva as well as the oral blister fluids. The person should use care to avoid getting mouth, eyes and open wounds exposed to an infected horse. In humans, the virus causes flu-like symptoms including headache, fever and muscle aches.
Animals that show signs of infection are isolated and quarantined until symptoms subside and contagion has passed. It should be noted that there are no USDA-approved vaccines.
To help prevent vesicular stomatitis, horse owners can take a few precautions:
- Practice strict fly control since flies are the primary culprits in spreading the virus
- Avoid or minimize the sharing of feeding and water tubs, grooming tools
- Apply insect repellent daily, especially to inside of ears·
- Isolate new horses for 21 days or more
- Observe horses closely for any changes
- Keep stables and stalls clean and dry
- Remove manure often to eliminate breeding grounds for insect vectors
If vesicular stomatitis is confirmed at a stable, begin wearing latex gloves. Then care first for all healthy animals and only then take care of the ill animals. There should be no equipment or grooming supplies shared between horses. Caretakers should shower, change clothing and disinfect all equipment used. Every effort should be made to prevent exposing the healthy horses or humans to the virus.
The virus can be destroyed by sunlight and heat. Commercial disinfectants [chlorine bleach, Wescodyne, Roccal, Septisol, cresylic acids] are effective in destroying the virus.
In the event of possible infection, cases must be reported to state authorities so samples can be tested for Foot and Mouth Disease.