Diseases in the News: 11/04

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VSD Causes Travel Restrictions
The number of horses with vesicular stomatitis disease (VSD) continues to climb. In Colorado, as of mid September, there were 91 premises under quarantine in 17 counties, with 123 horses infected. New Mexico had 91 equine cases on 61 premises in 10 counties, and Texas had 4 cases on 3 premises. Although this disease typically first appears in the warm months, and insects may be involved in the spread as well as direct animal contact, it’s not unusual for cases to continue to appear into the winter.

Canada has banned the importation of horses from states with vesicular stomatitis cases. The ban will remain in place until quarantines have been lifted for all involved premises within the state. The European Union (EU) is requiring all U.S. horses have a negative antibody titer from a sample taken within 10 days of their export to the EU. This requirement will remain in place until six months after the outbreak ends. All EU horses currently in the states and wanting to return to the EU must be certified to have not been on an infected premise during their time here.

If you live in or plan to travel to an affected area, or are planning to host a show or other event, it’s important to contact the state veterinarian’s office to determine current recommendations and restrictions. Colorado is recommending that all horses attending shows must have a health certificate issued within 48 hours of arrival that also states the farm/ranch of origin is free of evidence of the disease. They recommend that a veterinarian be on the grounds to check horses for signs of VSD on arrival. If you plan to travel with your horse into an involved state, check with your home state for any restrictions that might prevent you from legally returning home.

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WNV Hits California With Force
West Nile virus appeared in California in late 2003, confined to the six southernmost counties, suggesting it either came in through an airport or via birds. This year, watching the virus move across the state has been a d??j?? vu-like experience, mimicking what it did east of the Rockies. WNV activity has been detected throughout the state, with few counties remaining free from the disease.

As of late September, 327 equine cases from 27 counties have been confirmed positive. Of those, 43% were euthanized or died. This is higher than the 30% fatality rate nationwide. While not all horses will survive WNV and watching your ill horse fight the infection is horrible, aggressive anti-inflammatory therapy helps many horses get through it.

It’s important to have your horse tested and the infection confirmed. Some owners aren’t testing, worrying about cost, but at the time of this writing the California Animal Health Laboratory at University of California will perform a WNV IgM antibody titer testing for free. Contact your veterinarian about this.