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Vesicular Stomatitis

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More area horses may have virus
Of The Gazette Staff

In addition to one confirmed case of vesicular stomatitis in a horse near Laurel announced Wednesday, five other horses in Yellowstone County are under investigation for the contagious disease.

Teresa Howes, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in Fort Collins, Colo., said Thursday that a local veterinarian called in three of the cases.

"They were bled and the samples are at the lab in Bozeman, so we don't have the results back," Howes said.

The other two horses under investigation had blood samples taken Thursday; those samples are en route to the lab.

Blood tests for VS at the Bozeman lab on the campus of Montana State University take three to five days, according to a local veterinarian. Normally, if a federal veterinarian takes the blood sample, it goes directly to Ames, Iowa. If the blood test is positive and the animal shows mouth or hoof lesions, a second test to confirm the finding is done in Ames at the National Veterinary Services Laboratories.

The federal veterinarian in Montana and Montana State Veterinarian Tom Linfield in Helena are jointly investigating the calls. The infected horse had not traveled outside Montana, Linfield said, but may have been exposed through contact with an out-of-state animal.

The locations of the five horses in Yellowstone County were not released.

But on Thursday, Linfield narrowed down the area where the first confirmed VS case in Montana in two decades was found.

The horse in the confirmed case lives in an area between the Laurel exit off Interstate 90 and the Laurel East exit and between the interstate and the Laurel Airport. This area encompasses about 4.5 square miles, according the Yellowstone County GIS Department.

A cutting horse competition that attracts dozens of horses and riders is scheduled Saturday and Sunday at the Horse Palace off the East Laurel exit.

Because the competition lies within a 10-mile radius of the VS-infected horse, animals will need to be tested.

VS Complicates Montanafair: Outbreak requires animal inspections
"I guess if it's not absolutely necessary for them to be there, they might consider not attending," Linfield said. "Otherwise get a veterinarian inspection within 24 hours of going and again before they leave."

Costs of the tests vary with the different fees veterinarians charge.

Susceptible animals coming from VS-affected states that haven't come within 10 miles of a confirmed outbreak will need a certificate of veterinary health issued within 72 hours of arriving in Montana.

A cow in Sublette County, Wyo., also was confirmed with VS Wednesday. According to the USDA, no one in Wyoming has called in more suspected VS cases.

Officials have this advice for owners of animals susceptible to the disease: To protect your livestock from VS, use fly spray, fly masks and fly sheets, dip bits in disinfectant, park away from other horse trailers if possible, and make sure to use clean buckets from home to water the animals. Avoid communal watering areas.

The Montana Livestock Department has one more tip.

"If your horse or animal tests negative, but they've been around other animals, in addition to the vet tests, keep them separated from your other livestock and watch them," said spokeswoman Karen Cooper.

One of the earliest signs of VS is excessive slobbering. Then the animal develops blisterlike lesions on the tongue, lips, around the nose or genital area or on the coronary bands above the hooves. Animals can refuse to drink or eat due to the painful lesions.

Signs of the virus appear within two to eight days. An animal usually heals in two to three weeks. The quarantine in Montana runs 21 days.

To report any VS symptoms, call the Montana Department of Livestock at (406) 444-2043 or to the regional office of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at (406) 449-2220.


Well-known member
Feb 11, 2005
Reaction score
Good post Oldtimer. I have said for a helluva long time......VS may drive Animal ID long before we beat this "Mad COw" BS to death....
USDA is worried about Mad Cow and VS will knock the industry off it's perch a heck of al ot quicker!


CattleCo said:
Good post Oldtimer. I have said for a helluva long time......VS may drive Animal ID long before we beat this "Mad COw" BS to death....
USDA is worried about Mad Cow and VS will knock the industry off it's perch a heck of al ot quicker!

You may be right-- with some of these horse people moving all over the country all the time- many of which that have no idea on the brand or health movement laws - this VS has been spreading like crazy......


August 12, 2005

Last modified August 12, 2005 - 9:07 am

VS Complicates MontanaFair: Outbreak requires animal inspections
Of The Billings Gazette

Trailers full of horses and goats arriving at MontanaFair on Thursday afternoon got a personal greeting from the event's veterinarian.

Because of the outbreak of a contagious viral disease affecting horses, cattle, swine, sheep, goats, llamas and alpacas, all of those animals must undergo a visual inspection before entering the livestock barns for the fair that begins today and runs until Aug. 20.

The precaution was agreed to Wednesday evening by fair officials, the state veterinarian and Dr. Jody Anderson, who has been the fair's vet for the past five years. A confirmed case of vesicular stomatitis was reported in the Laurel area Wednesday. Animals checked and certified 24 hours prior to arriving at MetraPark did not have to wait in line.

The outbreak is affecting fairs in Montana and Wyoming, where the disease was also reported in a cow Wednesday.

"I want to help so bad," said Anderson as she waited for owners to open the animals' mouths so she could check the tongues for the blisterlike lesions that erupt when the disease is present. Anderson did not want to glove up for each animal or risk spreading the disease, so she had owners help with the work. The disease rarely affects people but can cause minor flulike symptoms.

In animals, the lesions are very painful and can cause them to stop eating and drinking. The disease runs its course in about two weeks.

Anderson said she expects to put in about five times as many hours as her usual 24 for the fair.

Hundreds of show animals are due at MetraPark this week for the Billings fair.

Tom and Paulette Buckner of Melstone arrived with 23 LaMancha dairy goats. All had to stick out their tongues.

Tom Buckner said he had never heard of the disease but was happy to cooperate.

That was the general mood of those waiting to have their animals examined.

"I'm not surprised by this," said Julie Capser, who was helping daughter, Emily, with her horse. "We are glad they are checking."

Traffic through the gate was steady just after 4 p.m., but the rush hour was in sight, said Mark Anderson, who serves as a vet tech for his wife. "Parents get off work at 5 and then go home and start hauling the animals in," he said. "The congestion is to come."

Chris Brown, Jackie Dundas and Karen Hinman were headed for Douglas, Wyo., for a quarter horse show when they learned of the VS outbreak.

"We thought it might be iffy going down there and maybe a chance of a quarantine," said Dundas. The women opted for entering a show on Monday in Billings.

In Wyoming, a Sublette County cow was diagnosed with the disease this week after a veterinarian notified federal officials of a cow with lesions and other possible symptoms. Clinic tests later showed it to be vesicular stomatitis.

Although only one cow tested positive, the entire ranch has been quarantined, according to Bret Combs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's veterinarian in charge in Wyoming.

There's no indication that the herd has traveled recently, boosting the possibility that the disease may have been transmitted by an insect.

Wyoming hasn't had a diagnosed case of VS since the 1990s. Positive cases must be reported to Wyoming's trading partners, according to state officials, which could mean restrictions, additional inspections or other testing requirements.

The recent VS diagnosis also means Canada will no longer accept horses originating from Montana or Wyoming, state officials said. Horses can enter Canada only if they've been outside the state for at least 21 days. Proof will be required, and the animals' international health certificates must be issued and endorsed in a state other than Wyoming or Montana.

The Wyoming State Fair and Rodeo begins Saturday in Douglas. Animals are already inspected as they enter the fair. Extra diligence will be used for this weekend's event, he said.

"That procedure is going to be ratcheted up a bit," Combs said.

Participants from out of state should check with their own state veterinarians to see what paperwork might be needed to bring their animals home after the trip to Wyoming, Combs said.

VS seems to run in cycles, with an outbreak followed by a lull of 10 or so years, Combs said. The latest activity in several states over several years is out of the ordinary.

"We've seen sporadic cases several years in a row, which is not typical of what we're seeing in the past," Combs said. "I don't know what that means exactly."

Jim Magagna of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association said Thursday that he doesn't expect the single case in Wyoming to disrupt the state's cattle industry.

"I don't see it being a crisis like with brucellosis," Magagna said, referring to Wyoming's loss of brucellosis-free status in 2004 that imposed restrictions on some exports.

So far, there are no signs that neighboring states plan on additional restrictions for Wyoming cattle in response to the VS diagnosis, he said.

"That's where some of the problems may lie, but I think it's premature to think that might happen," Magagna said.

Even if that happens, neighboring states such as Colorado, Utah and now Montana have cases involving the disease "so it's not like we'd stand out there alone," Magagna said.

He said the one piece of good news - if it can be called that - is that the Sublette County rancher recognized the symptoms and quickly called a veterinarian.

"Our people are being vigilant when it comes to animal health issues," he said.

Concern about vesicular stomatitis prompted the Goshen County Fair veterinarian in Torrington to ask horse owners to take their animals home.

Meanwhile, a team roper at the Goshen County Fair Rodeo found out that a horse he had left at home had contracted the disease. Blood tests were taken of two suspect animals at the fair.

All horses at the fair were sent home Tuesday.

"There were no known cases at the fair, but there was a chance the other horses could have had traces of the disease," veterinarian Brent Kaufman said.

The Wyoming Associated Press contributed to this report.

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