Vesicular Stomatitis Virus, also known as VSV, is an illness which can infect horses and cattle, causing blistering, sores, and sloughing of skin in horses, according to http://csu-cvmbs.colostate.edu.
The virus has been found in nearby states, including Colorado, Texas, and New Mexico. There are no cases of the disease in Kansas, as of yet. According to a report by KSNT, some officials with the Kansas Department of Agriculture have been taking measures to keep it that way.
According to Geary County Extension Agent Chuck Otte, it’s not a dire situation here in Geary County but it’s still something for horse owners to be aware of.
“I know the veterinarians in Kansas are paying very close attention to it,” he said. “Kansas Department of Agriculture, I know, Health Division, is paying very close attention to it.”
However, horse owners who travel with their animals should take precautions.
“The biggest problem with this is going to be horse shows,” Otte said.
Many locals show horses, sometimes taking their animals out of state, he said.
“If it gets into a horse show, it’s going to run through it in a hurry,” Otte said.
If someone plans to take a horse into a state where VSV has been detected, according to Otte, they need to be “cautious and aware.”
“It is of concern,” Otte said.
The virus is transmitted by insects, including flies. There is no approved vaccine for VSV on the market at this time.
“It’s one of those challenging ones,” Otte said. “Like foot and mouth disease. Normally, the way we deal with things is, we vaccinate. If we can’t vaccinate, then we just try to do avoidance.”
If someone fears their horse has been exposed to the virus, he said they should isolate the animal and talk to their vet.
“Don’t try to do anything yourself,” Otte said. “This is where the internet gets really dangerous, because people will go on the internet for anything and find all sorts of information.”
Much of that information, he said, is wrong.
If an animal is found to be positive for VSV, keep it quarantined for at least 14 days.
“Once the animal is infected, it can run its course fairly quickly,” Otte said. “Unfortunately, like a lot of viruses, it can have longterm impacts. It’s kind of like having a cold and then having lingering issues after that.”
So horse owners should be aware if they’ve been in — or plan to enter — areas where VSV has been spotted
This disease is not a new thing, according to Otte.
“We’ve been talking about it for a couple years here in the state,” he said. “We knew it’s been around.”
VSV can be transferred to humans. It produces “flu-like” symptoms, according to www.cfsph.iastate.edu.
Though it mainly infects horses, the disease can also show up in other livestock animals such as cattle.
Humboldt Creek-area rancher Philip Goodyear, who keeps cattle, is not concerned about VSV, himself. He knows it has potential to spread to Kansas, but other illnesses are higher on his list of concerns at this time.
“We have diseases actually that are much more concerning than that one, to me, that are already here,” Goodyear said.
This includes Anaplasmosis, which is also spread through insects.
In the event that VSV does show its face in Kansas, he has precautions already in place against disease.
“We use a lot of fly control methods to keep the vectors from infecting the cattle,” Goodyear said. “And we don’t ever let new cattle in with existing cattle until they’ve had a quarantine period. Typical precautions that every animal person needs to take.”
He advises others do the same.
“They need to be protected against the vectors — the blood borne vectors — such as ticks and flies,” he said. “Horn flies, that actually transfer the disease from animal to animal. And quarantining animals. If you’re going to bring a new animal into your herd, you need to have it tested and it needs quarantined for 30 days prior to entering your herd. And your cow herd always needs to remain away from facilities where new cattle are coming and going on a regular basis.”