Ellis County is among the counties where the Texas Animal Health Commission has received reports of five new confirmed cases of vesicular stomatitis virus and four new suspect cases in counties where VSV was previously confirmed.

In addition to Ellis County, the counties with new VSV cases in horses and cattle include Bastrop, Bell, Dallas, Guadalupe and Williamson.

The newly confirmed and suspect premises are under quarantine by the TAHC. Affected horses and cattle will be monitored by regulatory and authorized veterinarians until premises are eligible for quarantine release 14 days after clinical VSV signs are observed.

What Equine and Cattle Owners Need to Know

VSV is a viral disease that primarily affects horses and cattle. In the past decade, southwestern and western states have experienced a number of VSV outbreaks. Outbreaks usually occur during the warmer months, often along waterways.

VSV normally has an incubation period of 2-8 days before the infected animal develops blisters that swell and burst, leaving painful sores. The virus can be transmitted through direct contact with infected animals or by blood-feeding insects.

If VSV is confirmed, infected animals are quarantined for 14 days after clinical signs of lesions are observed. This short-term quarantine helps prevent the movement of animals and the spread of the disease to other premises, fairs or markets.

Classification of Cases

Premises that have laboratory diagnostic confirmation of VSV are categorized as confirmed positive premises. Once a county is confirmed as VSV-positive, new premises presenting with clinical signs of VSV in that county are not required to be tested for confirmation of the disease but the premises will be quarantined and classified as a suspect premises.

Summary of the Outbreak

The 2019 VSV outbreak began June 21, 2019, when the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, confirmed the first VSV-positive premises in Kinney County, Texas. All cases of VSV had been found on equine premises until July 30, 2019, when the first case of VSV was confirmed in cattle in Gonzales County. New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming broke with VSV cases confirmed by NVSL.

To date, 168 premises in 36 Texas counties have been quarantined for VSV. Currently affected counties include Bastrop, Bell, Coleman, Collin, Dallas, Eastland, Ellis, Hood, McLennan, Palo Pinto, Parker, Taylor, Travis and Williamson counties. Of the 168 premises quarantined, 140 have been released.

What Veterinarians Need to Know

Several states are imposing enhanced entry requirements on Texas livestock due to the VSV cases. For information, contact the state of destination. For a list of state animal health offices visit https://www.usaha.org/upload/Federal%20and%20State%20Health/STATE_ANIMAL_HEALT H_OFFICIALS%20-%20Copy%201.pdf.

If you suspect your client’s horse has VSV, contact your TAHC Region Office for paperwork, procedures and important sample submission information.

Strategies for Preventing VSV

Even with the best defensive measures, VSV could infect a herd. However, these tips may help protect livestock:

1. Control biting flies.

2. Keep equine animals stalled or under a roof at night to reduce exposure to flies.

3. Keep stalls clean.

4. Feed and water stock from their individual buckets.

5. Don’t visit a ranch that’s under quarantine for VSV. Wait until the animals have healed.

For more information about VSV and specific products and possible control measures to help you protect your livestock, contact Mark Arnold at Ellis County office of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension at 972-825-5175.

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