Vesicular stomatitis found in New Mexico horses

Mouth blisters in a horse with vesicular stomatitis.
Mouth blisters in a horse with vesicular stomatitis.

Two horses have been diagnosed with vesicular stomatitis  in New Mexico.

Vesicular stomatitis is a sporadically occurring virus endemic to the US.

Signs include blisters, lesions and sloughing of the skin on the muzzles, tongue, teats and above the hooves of susceptible livestock, which include horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, deer and some other species of animals.

The New Mexico Livestock Board said it was working with federal authorities to limit the spread of the disease.

It is the first detection of active virus for the disease in the US since June 2010.

Veterinary Services of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) at the US Department of Agriculture confirmed the cases on a horse ranch outside Tularosa, in Otero County.

Two horses from the affected premises were sampled on April 18, after vesicular lesions were observed on both animals.

The samples were sent to Veterinary Services’ National Veterinary Services Laboratories for confirmation and one of the lesioned horses met the official index case definition for the virus.

Testing was completed and confirmed the virus as New Jersey serotype.

In co-operation with the New Mexico Livestock Board, APHIS has started an investigation and the property is currently under quarantine. Three other unaffected horses at the property have been isolated from the positive animals.

Vesicular stomatitis is a notifiable disease and APHIS will report the findings to the World Animal Health Organization.

Officials anticipate some countries may require additional certification and diagnostic testing requirements for US livestock and livestock products.

The affected property is said to be in an area with a very low-density livestock population.

None of the five horses has been off the property in the last 12 months.

The New Mexico Livestock Board is conducting surveillance examinations of all livestock in the immediate area.

Managers of major equine shows and events are strongly encouraged to call the New Mexico state veterinarian at (505) 841-6161 for guidance on how to minimize disruption of shows and events.

Livestock producers in New Mexico may have some restrictions applied to animals moving into other states or internationally.

It is not fully understood how vesicular stomatitis is spread. Factors include insect vectors, mechanical transmission, and movement of animals.

It is not usually fatal.

The virus primarily affects cattle, horses, and pigs, causing blister-like lesions that can be painful enough to limit the animal’s eating and drinking. According to USDA, good sanitation and quarantine practices on affected farms usually control the infection until it subsides and soon ends; affected animals typically recover in two weeks.


Updates, including those in movement restrictions, will be posted online at Contact USDA-VS, Albuquerque for information on international shipment at (505-761-3160)

Vesicular stomatitis Questions and Answers




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