Vesicular Stomatitis

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Vesicular stomatitis (VS) in horses has been making headlines this year, but most owners know very little about this mysterious disease that baffles even the researchers. Here’s a quick primer on this contagious disease:

• Before this year’s U.S. outbreak, the last VS case in this country occurred in 1998.

• VS is caused by a virus and is only found in North and South America; it’s believed that biting insects transmit the
disease, although VS can be spread horse-to-horse.

• In addition to a fever and drooling or frothing at the mouth, blister-like lesions develop on the tongue, mouth lining, nose and lips of horses afflicted with VS; in some cases lesions can develop on the coronary bands, the udder or sheath.

• VS is not typically life threatening and usually runs its course within two weeks, but it can take up to two months for the sores to heal.

• State and federal animal health authorities must be contacted by veterinarians who treat VS horses.

• Summer to early fall is when the disease typically strikes; warm regions are most affected.

• Livestock, wildlife and even humans are susceptible to VS.

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