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Confirmed Cases of Insect-Borne Virus Found in Texas Horses

Texas livestock owners are being urged to check their horses and other animals for disease after a contagious insect-born virus was confirmed at a farm in Kinney County. Multiple horses have tested positive for vesicular stomatitis (VS), and this puts the entire area on alert. These are the first confirmed cases VS in horses this year.

The discovery was made on June 21 when the horse’s owner noticed blister-like lesions on the horses’ muzzles. They called a vet, and a test confirmed the difficult news. The horses have since been quarantined and are being treated with supportive care.

NEWS: Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) was confirmed in horses on a Kinney County premises on June 21, 2019. The…

Posted by Texas Animal Health Commission on Monday, June 24, 2019

Usually transmitted through insects including black flies, sand flies, and midges, VS is a treatable, yet potentially painful, condition affecting horses and occasionally other livestock including cows and sheep. The most obvious symptom is blisters in or around the mouth or nose, and the blisters can also spread to the coronary band or sheath/udders. Fever, excessive drooling, trouble eating, and laminitis are also potential symptoms.

While VS is only rarely transmitted to humans, it is possible with direct contact with an infected animal. In most cases, it happens when the horse’s saliva enters an open wound or gets into a person’s eyes or mouth. The virus can also spread through water and feed, and it can hitchhike via troughs, buckets, bits, and anything else that comes in frequent contact with the horse. It’s always best to wear gloves when handling a VS-positive horse.

The good news is, VS is treatable. Horses need to be quarantined for at least 14 days from the onset of the lesions, and most horses completely recover in 2-3 weeks. It’s important, however, to report suspected symptoms as soon as possible. The lesions are often mistaken for other common diseases, like foot-and-mouth disease, and infected horses will worsen without a correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment. 

The Texas Animal Health Commission encourages horse owners to put additional effort in protecting their horses from insects. Check out this link to help keep the flies away from your horse farm. 

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