The vesicular stomatitis outbreak isn't as bad as last year, says the Colorado state veterinarian, but the contagious equine and livestock disease is spread across a wider geographic area than has been seen in recent years.
According to the latest data from the Colorado Department of Agriculture's State Veterinarian's Office, 65 locations in 15 counties are under quarantine after horses, mules, and cattle herds tested positive for VS.
There are currently two locations under quarantine in Montezuma County after VS was detected, and nine released quarantines. By contrast, Larimer County has 14 locations currently under quarantine, with 22 release quarantines.
"This outbreak is not contained to one specific area of the state. The overall number of cases in 2015 is lower than 2014 and we are seeing a more diffuse occurrence across the state. Last week, we had VS diagnosed in Boulder, Ouray, Pueblo, Rio Grande Counties," said State Veterinarian Keith Roehr in a press release. "I encourage all livestock owners to be aware of their county status and take the proper precautions to prevent insect populations on their property."
Dr. Amanda Hawkins, of the Montezuma County Veterinary Clinic, said last month that disease is primarily transmitted through flies, which breed and lay eggs in waterways. The abundance of moisture the area has received this season has contributed to the uptick in cases, and fly control in livestock areas is highly recommended.
Livestock owners who suspect an animal may have VS or any other vesicular disease should immediately contact their local veterinarian. Livestock with clinical signs of VS - which include oral lesions, sloughing of the skin, weight loss and excessive drooling - are isolated until they are determined to be of no further threat.
While rare, human cases of VS can occur, usually among those who handle infected animals and have open wounds. VS in humans can cause flu-like symptoms and only rarely includes lesions or blisters. Hawkins suggests handlers use gloves when working with possibly infected animals.
There are no USDA-approved vaccines for VS.