MT. CARMEL, Kane County — Tests have confirmed the finding of vesicular stomatitis in one mule and potentially several other animals in Kane County, according to the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.
Tests conducted by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, confirmed the VS finding. Four additional horses are undergoing tests after showing symptoms, and an additional nine horses may have had contact with these four horses or the confirmed mule. All of the animals are in quarantine under strict isolation, the UDAF said in a news release.
The animals traveled from Arizona and arrived in Utah with some of the animals already beginning to show symptoms. Arizona and New Mexico reported cases of VS in nine locations as of last Monday. The report cautions horse owners that VS may be very active this year, given the early onset of many cases.
VS is a livestock disease, primarily affecting cattle and horses but also occasionally affecting swine, sheep and goats. Humans can contract the disease when handling afflicted animals, which causes a flu-like illness, but the UDAF notes this is a rare event.
The release stresses that veterinarians and livestock owners be on high alert for animals showing signs of the disease, including lesions in the mouth and on the dental pad, tongue, lips, nostrils, hooves and teats. The affliction is particularly significant due to its similarity in outward symptoms to foot-and-mouth disease, a foreign malady believed to have been eradicated from the United States in 1929. Other cases of VS have been reported in Utah in 2005 and also in the mid-1980s.
There is no treatment or cure for VS in livestock, though owners can protect their animals through congregation precautions and good sanitation. New cases are required to be reported to the state or federal veterinarian.