Utah Department of Agriculture and Food

Vesicular Stomatitis Confirmed in Southern Utah



Vesicular Stomatitis (VS) Confirmed In One Mule in Utah

 May 5, 2015

(Mt. Carmel, Utah)  Tests conducted by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa, have confirmed the finding of vesicular stomatitis (VS) in one mule located in Kane County.  Four other horses are showing symptoms of VS and are undergoing tests.  An additional nine horses may have had contact with the mule and four horses.   All of the suspect animals are in isolation and under quarantine.  The infected animals traveled from Arizona, where additional cases of VS have been recently confirmed, and arrived in Utah with some of the animals showing symptoms.

The confirmation of the disease has prompted a mandatory quarantine of all 14 animals by Acting State Veterinarian, Dr. Warren Hess.

The VS discovery comes during the Mt. Carmel XP horse endurance/trail event held April 29th to May 3rd, 2015.  All participants in the event are encouraged to examine their animals for signs of vesicular stomatitis and report any symptoms to your local veterinarian, or the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food at: (801) 538-4910.

The states of New Mexico and Arizona report cases of VS in nine locations as of May 4, 2015.  This is an early onset of VS cases, and horse owners are cautioned that VS may be very active this year.

VS is a livestock disease that primarily affects cattle and horses. It occasionally affects swine, sheep and goats.  Humans can also become infected when handling affected animals, but this is a rare event.  Humans can contract VS if proper biosecurity steps are not followed.  Prevalence of this disease in humans may be underreported because it may often go undetected or be misdiagnosed. In people, vesicular stomatitis causes an acute influenza-like illness with symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, headache, and malaise.

Vesicular Stomatitis has been previously reported in Utah in 2005 and the mid 1980’s.  All cases of vesicular disease are required to be reported to the State or Federal Veterinarian.  The lesions of Vesicular Stomatitis in cattle are only distinguishable from Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) by laboratory testing.  FMD does not affect equines.

Many states have applied interstate movement restrictions of various types to livestock from
states where the disease has been diagnosed.  Care should be taken to comply with regulations in the state of destination regarding interstate movement of livestock from Utah.

It is essential that veterinarians and livestock owners be on the alert for animals displaying clinical signs characteristic of the disease such as lesions in the mouth and on the dental pad, tongue, lips, nostrils, hooves, and teats. These blisters leave raw tissue that is so painful that infected animals generally refuse to eat or drink and may show signs of lameness. Severe weight loss usually follows, and in dairy cows, a severe drop in milk production commonly occurs.

While vesicular stomatitis can cause economic losses to livestock producers, it is a particularly significant disease because its outward signs are similar to those of foot-and-mouth disease, a foreign animal disease of cloven-hoofed animals that was eradicated from the United States in 1929.

There is no specific treatment or cure for vesicular stomatitis in livestock. Livestock owners can protect their animals by avoiding congregation of animals in the vicinity where vesicular stomatitis has occurred. Good sanitation and quarantine practices on affected farms usually contain the infection until it dies out of its own accord.  Owners are encouraged to control biting insects such as black flies and other flying and/or biting insects.  For additional information on vesicular stomatitis please refer to the following APHIS Web page: http://1.usa.gov/1Iwv2qc                  


More information on VS and recommended action


Contact: Dr. Warren Hess, (801) 538-4910
Larry Lewis (801) 538-7104
Cell (801) 514-2152




posted: May 5, 2015