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Health Alert For Horses And Cattle

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Sonora, CA — Tuolumne County Animal Control is warning of a viral disease agent outbreak hitting primarily horses and cattle in California.

It is called vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) and can occasionally infect swine, sheep, goats, llamas, and alpacas as well. Outbreaks usually occur during the warm summer months, particularly in animals pastured along waterways. It does not usually cause animals to die, but its symptoms are similar to those of foot and mouth disease. Additionally, it can cause significant economic losses to livestock producers.

“Humans that handle affected animals may become infected, but this is a rare event,” advised animal control officials.

The first signs of infection in livestock begin 2–8 days after exposure to the virus and include excessive salivation due to vesicles, blister-like lesions, in the mouth. Animal control officials detailed, “An infected animal’s saliva and fluid from ruptured vesicles can contaminate feed, water, housing, and other objects, further spreading the disease.” Also, biting bugs like flies can play a role in transmission. Affected animals usually recover within two weeks.

There is no specific treatment, cure, or vaccine for VSV. Veterinarians and livestock owners should report infections to state or federal animal health authorities. Click here for more information on the virus.

Animal control also released these state statistics:

  • Since the start of the outbreak, 77 VSV-affected premises have been identified (29 confirmed positive, 48 suspected) in California.
  • Seventy-five (75) of these premises have had only equine species clinically affected in 5 counties (Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego Counties), one (1) premises has had clinically affected cattle (San Diego County), and one (1) premises has had clinically affected rhinoceros (San Diego County).
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