Vesicular stomatitis virus hit Fremont County; CWC taking precautions

A case of vesicular stomatitis virus, most commonly found in horses, has been confirmed in Fremont County. There have been two confirmed horses at the CWC Equine Center and the equine center has gone into quarantine.

“This is a mild case and we have only seen small dime size lesions on the horses,” said Jennifer Cole, assistant professor of equine studies. “This case has come from somewhere outside of Fremont County and did not originate with us.”

The first reported case of VSV in Fremont County was on Aug. 27, since then there have been about 54 confirmed and suspected cases in Fremont County.

“We are here to help protect our livestock,” said Dr. Jim Logan, Wyoming state veterinarian at the Tuesday nights public presentation at CWC. “This is a contagious disease of hooved animals and it has been around for a long time and we have had outbreaks before. We will get through this when we get a couple of hard frosts.”

In Wyoming, 113 premises have been quarantined in nine counties. Those counties affected are Albany, Laramie, Goshen, Platte, Natrona, Converse, Weston, Sublette and Fremont.

“We take action on what cases are reported, it is mandatory to report VSV but there are probably more cases that we do not know of,” Dr. Logan said. “We need to know so we can keep VSV and other diseases from spreading so we do not have these outbreaks.”

It is important to monitor livestock. The quarantining process lasts two weeks from when the case was first seen, if a new case appears then the two week quarantine starts again. A horse with VSV is only contagious when it has an active lesion which only lasts about two weeks. Quarantining also helps prevent the spread of the disease. There are no cures for VSV but there are ways to help prevent the spread. As VSV is commonly spread through flies and midges; keep flies down with spray, keep grass cut and keep other areas clean around livestock. The disease can also be spread by direct contact such as nose to nose or through indirect contact through troughs. There are no vaccines for VSV.

The main symptoms of VSV are blisters, sores and sloughing of the skin in the mouth.

“We have been spraying for flies to control the issue,” Cole said. “This really is more of an inconvenience for us than a threat and not every horse can get the virus. The best thing we can do for the two infected horses is to keep them comfortable; it’s like staying home if you’re sick.”

Cole said VSV usually lasts only a few days and the horses will start to feel better and the sores will heal. The equine center will continue to monitor all livestock for symptoms.

With the quarantine, livestock is not allowed in or out of the equine center for two weeks, given that no other cases arise. All clinics have been cancelled at this time. The rodeo team is taking a week break from practice after their final rodeo and will not work with livestock until the quarantine is lifted.

“We will still do some ground work but we will not be able to do any practice with livestock,” said Drew Schrock, rodeo coach.

Two health inspections have been conducted on the rodeo team’s horses this season. At this point in time it’s unclear where the case in Fremont County originated from, but the rodeo team wasn’t in Riverton at the time the case was discovered. While some have speculated that VSV may have come from the rodeo team’s travels around the region this fall, Schrock said the team has gone through rigorous inspections throughout their travels. By the time they returned to Riverton, the case had already been discovered at the equine center.

“Anytime we cross the state line we have to go through inspection,” Schrock said. “The case broke out while we were at the Lamar rodeo in Colorado and I’ve been in contact with the state vet.”

Since then the team has taken the necessary precautions by isolating their horses and keeping them at the Fremont County Fairgrounds.

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