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Vesicular stomatitis strain not common to Colorado horses confirmed in 32 counties

Posted at 9:06 PM, Aug 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-30 23:11:18-04

BROOMFIELD, Colo. – A virus not common to Colorado horses has been confirmed in 32 counties statewide, the Colorado Department of Agriculture said Friday, after more than 200 properties were placed under quarantine at the beginning of this month.

Adams, Alamosa, Arapahoe, Archuleta, Boulder, Broomfield, Chaffee, Conejos, Delta, Dolores, Douglas, El Paso, Fremont, Garfield, Gilpin, Grand, Gunnison, Jefferson, La Plata, Larimer, Mesa, Mineral, Montezuma, Montrose, Morgan, Ouray, Park, Pueblo, Rio Blanco, San Miguel, Summit, and Weld counties – all have animals infected with the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), the department announced in a news release.

"We are seeing increasing numbers in new counties across the state,” said Colorado State Veterinarian Dr. Keith Roehr in a prepared statement. “It is important to remain diligent in checking horses and livestock for VSV lesions and contacting your veterinarian if symptoms are found."

The virus, which is rarely life-threatening, can cause a significant impact to the horse industry, according to the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

The Indiana strain of VSV that is affecting Colorado horses showed up in Texas at the end of June. A few days later and after making its way through New Mexico, it appeared in Colorado, where the strain of the virus is not common.

The last time the virus was observed in the state’s livestock was in the 2014-2015 season, according to Dr. Nick Striegel with the Colorado Veterinarians Office. At the time, officials investigated over 500 confirmed cases.

Officials had already investigated nearly 400 cases in early August. An updated number of confirmed cases in animals was not immediately released.

State Department of Agriculture officials said all VSV cases must be reported to the State Veterinarian’s Office at 303-869-9130, "regardless if the owner and veterinarian decide to have their livestock tested or choose to manage as positive premises based on the presence of typical clinical signs without testing," the release stated.

VSV is highly contagious and can be passed on to cattle, sheep and other livestock. The virus is transmitted by various flies.