Vesicular Stomatitis (VS) is now in San Miguel County, as many have predicted. Now, equine owners are hoping that their horses don’t get it, or the virus passes quickly, if they do. 

VS is a viral disease that causes blisters and ulcers on the mouth, feet, ears and udders of cattle, horses and swine, and occasionally mules, donkeys, sheep, goats, llamas and alpacas. 

Clinical signs include vesicles, erosions and sloughing of the skin on the muzzle, tongue, ears, teats and coronary bands. Often excessive salivation is the first sign of the disease, along with a reluctance to eat or drink. Lameness and weight loss may follow — side effects from the virus that are no doubt terrifying to those who own horses. 

VS is actually not considered a highly contagious virus, as it is spread primarily through insect vectors, and rarely through saliva or other contact. Still, it is quite worrisome to livestock owners, especially horse owners. 

The incubation period ranges from two to eight days, so horses that contract the virus show signs fairly quickly.

Now VS has been confirmed in animals in the following Colorado counties: Adams, Alamosa, Arapahoe, Archuleta, Boulder, Broomfield, Chaffee, Conejos, Delta, Dolores, Douglas, El Paso, Fremont, Garfield, Gilpin, Grand, Gunnison, Jefferson, La Plata, Larimer, Mesa, Mineral, Montezuma, Montrose, Morgan, Ouray, Park, Pueblo, Rio Blanco, San Miguel, Summit and Weld.

The state vet’s office said all cases are important for the epidemiology and management of this summer’s outbreak and must be reported to the state veterinarian’s office at 303-869-9130, regardless of whether the owner and veterinarian decide to have their livestock tested, or choose to manage as positive based on the presence of typical clinical signs without testing.

"We are seeing increasing numbers in new counties across the state,” Colorado State Veterinarian Dr. Keith Roehr said.  “It is important to remain diligent in checking horses and livestock for VSV lesions and contacting your veterinarian if symptoms are found."

The only cases that may be managed as “suspect positive,” rather than “confirmed positive,” are equine cases located in counties that have confirmed cases.

State officials said equine owners and livestock producers across the state are impacted by VS; they want all livestock owners to carefully watch the case numbers and affected counties to gauge their level of risk and institute mitigation measures.  

The total count of premises under quarantine for VS by county is outlined on the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA). CDA’s Animal Health division is updating the information regularly.

Currently, there are 182 animals with the virus, with one confirmed in San Miguel County. At this point, 435 have been released from quarantine. All cases are equine, with the exception of two bovine cases. 

Andrya Brantingham of Norwood said she knows it’s close to her barn. She’s heard stories of where it might be in Norwood, but isn’t sure. 

“Yes, I am worried,” she said. “I have an old mare that I am putting a fly sheet on now. I spray every day, have fly traps in my barn, use fly masks, scoop manure regularly. I don’t know what else I can do.”

VS should die down when the colder temps arrive, making it impossible for flies to thrive and spread disease.