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Serving: KS
a chesnut bay and white horse trotting in green pasture with a splitrail fence and trees mvburling/getty images
THREAT OVER: The danger of vesicular stomatitis spreading is likely over for this year because a hard freeze has eliminated the flies and midges that are the vector for the virus, which is seen primarily in horses.

Vesicular stomatitis shows up in Sherman County

Horses at a private residence in Kansas tested positive for the viral disease.

Officials with the Kansas Department of Agriculture Division of Animal Health confirmed vesicular stomatitis in horses in Sherman County in October, making Kansas the eighth state in the U.S. to have an outbreak of the viral disease this year.

The infected animals were all on the same premises, which is a private residence, and no animal movement had occurred from the property for more than three weeks before the outbreak. The Division of Animal Health quarantined the livestock for 14 days after the outbreak and lifted the quarantine in early November. There was no known exposure to other livestock, according DAH spokeswoman Heather Lansdowne.

The primary impact of the disease comes from restricted movement of animals, she says.

“There are restrictions on the import of animals from a state that has a positive confirmation,” Lansdowne says. “Canada doesn’t allow any movement of horses for 21 days after a quarantine is lifted, for example. And most states have increased testing protocols for animals coming into the state.”

Having one premises test positive for the disease restricts the movement of all animals from the state, she says, which can have an impact on events such as horse shows and state fairs.

Lansdowne says the virus primarily affects horses but has also been seen in cattle, sheep, goats, swine, llamas and alpacas, which is why it is a reportable disease requiring quarantine. It is mostly spread by biting insects such as flies and midges but is also contagious in nose-to-nose contact between animals.

“It is a very painful disease for the animal, causing fever and blisters in the mouth, nostrils, ears and hooves and on teats,” she says. “It generally runs its course in five to seven days and can take another seven days for animals to fully recover.”

The good news for Kansas is that the outbreak occurred fairly late in the fall and a hard freeze killed off the insects that primarily spread it, so the problem should be over for this year.

“We don’t know if we’ll see it again next year,” Lansdowne says. “This year, it was reported first in Texas in June, then in Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico. With it being in states to the north, south and west of us, it’s not surprising that it showed up in Kansas. We took immediate action to increase the import requirements of animals, but we can’t control the movement of insects.”

The Kansas Department of Agriculture supplied some of the content in this article.
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