Animals to be Quarantined with Rare Disease

Animals to be Quarantined with Rare Disease

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John Hollenhorst ReportingA number of animals have been quarantined in Utah because of a disease that only occasionally shows up here. Although it's not one of the more worrisome animal diseases, it looks very unpleasant and causes animals serious discomfort.

These horses have seen better days. Veterinarian John Mathis says it appears all three have a disease called Vesicular Stomatitis, VS, which has some particularly cruel effects.

Dr. John Mathis, Veterinarian: "It forms blisters on the tongue and it will rupture and leave big raw sores."

The lips, too, develop sores.

Dr. John Mathis: "The skin over the surface of them sloughs off. I suspect that it is [very uncomfortable]. Quite bad."

Dr. Mathis asked us not to reveal the owner's name, since the horses are now quarantined. VS symptoms sometimes resemble the dreaded foot-and-mouth disease.

Dr. John Mathis: "They're very similar in clinical signs. They're not related at all. There's no connection in that way at all. They have similar clinical appearances."

VS is required to be reported. In this case a federal investigator took blood samples. The disease is spread by biting insects or through direct contact between animals. It can affect sheep, pigs and goats as well. But the biggest worry is if it spreads to dairy cows.

Dr. John Mathis: "It creates a lot of mastitis, a lot of lost milk production. It can be devastating to a dairy herd. And that's part of the reason you want to quarantine them, to restrict the movement and their spread, so we protect that livestock production capability."

Whether serious or not, for those who love animals, watching the disease can be agonizing.

Dr. John Mathis: "It bothers the owners in that they love their animals, hate to see them suffer. I want to reassure them that it's not a permanent lasting effect. That they get over it. They recover very nicely, with very little treatment."

Lab tests have confirmed VS disease in eleven cattle in the Vernal area, one cow in Monument Valley and two horses in Davis and Garfield Counties. In some cases direct contact can spread the disease to humans, creating symptoms similar to the flu. If you have concerns, you should contact your vet.

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