Your Guide to Equine Health Care

Update on Vesicular Stomatitis

VS spread across eight states in 2019, affecting equine transportation, competitions, and other events. Here’s what we know going into 2020.
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Vesicular Stomatitis Update
APHIS recorded 1,144 premises with VS in eight states (Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming) in 2019, which is now the largest recent outbreak in the past 40 years of recorded history. | Photo: Courtesy Dr. Josie Traub-Dargatz
Now that no new cases of vesicular stomatitis (VS) have been reported since the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Situation Report of Nov. 21, 2019 and all affected states have been released from quarantine as of Dec. 27, 2019, horse owners can breathe a short sigh of relief. And then prepare for 2020.

2019: A ‘Huge’ VS Year

This past year was a huge one for VS outbreaks, says Angela Pelzel-McCluskey, DVM, MS. APHIS recorded 1,144 premises with VS in eight states (Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming) in 2019, which is now the largest recent outbreak in the past 40 years of recorded history. The largest outbreak prior to this, in 2015-2016, had 823 infected premises in eight states.

“We’re not sure what to expect for 2020,” she says, adding that the virus can overwinter, resulting in an identical virus the following year—a process that occurred in the 2004-2006 and 2014-2015 outbreaks.

“We know that some climate and ecological factors come into play to either support or stop the overwintering events that occur when black fly vectors pass the virus to their eggs when they lay them in moving water, and then in spring, when those eggs hatch, those newly hatched flies already have, and are capable of transmitting, the virus,” she says, adding that research is ongoing to determine the factors involved in outbreaks. “We don’t yet know why the outbreaks stopped in 2006 and

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Written by:

Diane Rice earned her bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism from the University of Wisconsin, then married her education with her lifelong passion for horses by working in editorial positions at Appaloosa Journal for 12 years. She has also served on the American Horse Publications’ board of directors. She now freelances in writing, editing, and proofreading. She lives in Middleton, Idaho, and spends her spare time gardening, reading, serving in her church, and spending time with her daughters, their families, and a myriad of her own and other people’s pets.

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