Utah joins states with stomatitis infections
This year's early-season outbreak of vesicular stomatitis (VS) continues to expand, with Utah becoming the most recent state infected with the pesky disease.
On June 17, 2005, the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL), Ames, IA, confirmed the disease in one horse each from Garfield and Davis counties in Utah, the first confirmed cases in that state this year 2005.
According to the Utah Department of Agriculture, the two horses were part of a pleasure ride on May 22 along the Escalante River in southeast Utah. The owners did tell officials that they remember an abundance of biting flies and insects along the trail, and that the horses started showing signs of the disease May 31. Flies and other flying insects are thought to be the primary vectors by which the disease is transmitted.
With Utah, there are now four states that have reported confirmed cases of the disease, which was first confirmed rearing its ugly head in late April. The other three states that have already reported infections of the disease are Arizona, Texas and New Mexico, with Arizona being the hardest hit so far.
As of June 17, 18 premises in five counties are under quarantine because of VS; eight of those premises were on the 21-day countdown for release from quarantine. In both Texas and New Mexico, two horses from the same premise in one county are currently infected with the disease. In both those instances, the infected premise is on a 21-day countdown from quarantine.
The counties with confirmed cases are Graham, Maricopa, Navajo, Pinal and Yavapai in Arizona; Luna County in New Mexico; and Travis County in Texas.
Over the past two-plus decades outbreaks have generally followed a 10- to 15-year cycle. In l982-83, the U.S. suffered its worst recorded VS outbreak, when infection was confirmed on 617 premises in nine statesC Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota.
Subsequent outbreaks occurred in l995, l997 and l998 but were limited to Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Texas. Last year, Texas had 15 cases, New Mexico 80, and Colorado 199. Utah did not have any confirmed cases of the disease in 2004.
Colorado and other neighboring states have not yet been hit by the disease. However, state animal health officials have said the lingering wet weather conditions this spring have left the possibility for an even greater outbreak of the disease very likely.
Livestock owners and private veterinary practitioners are urged to report suspected cases of VS to their respective state livestock health regulatory agency because of the similar symptoms the disease has compared to hoof-and-mouth disease.
Prospective buyers of cattle from states not infected with the disease but looking to buy animals from infected states are asked to talk with their respective state livestock health officials to see what additional testing requirements, if any, are needed prior to bringing cattle across state borders. — Steven D. Vetter, WLJ Editor