Two cases of the vesicular stomatitis virus, a disease that primarily affects livestock, have been confirmed in La Plata County, according to state health officials.
The Colorado Department of Agriculture announced the confirmed cases last week in La Plata County, as well as 12 cases in both Larimer and Weld counties. The animals affected have been quarantined.
The department, however, did not specify what type of animals had the virus or an exact location.
The virus can affect cattle, horses and swine, as well as sheep, goats and llamas. Symptoms can include excessive salivation; lesions in the mouth, nostrils and feet; lack of appetite; and lameness.
A team roping competition planned for the Montezuma County Fair on Saturday, July 27, was canceled because of fear of spreading the virus.
Deaths are rare, according to Iowa State University’s Center for Food Security and Public Health. But lesions can be painful, and left untreated, some animals may lose their hooves.
The virus is no longer endemic to the U.S. but periodically spreads north from Mexico and South America.
While the transmission of the disease is not completely understood, the Center for Food Security and Public Health says flies have been known to spread the virus. Once it has been introduced to a herd, it can spread from animal to animal by direct contact.
Animals typically are quarantined for three to seven days, the center said.
Treatment is symptomatic but can include cleaning lesions with antiseptic solutions or providing softer food to animals with mouth lesions.
Prevention methods include strict fly control around a property, such as eliminating fly breeding areas and proper insecticide use for livestock and barn areas.
People who have animals they suspect of having the vesicular stomatitis virus should report it to state officials at (303) 869-9130.