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A Warm Colorado Fall Aids Vesicular Stomatitis' Southern Movement

Drs. Brent Thompson and Fred Bourgeois
Colorado Department of Agriculture

Sixty properties along the Front Range are currently under quarantine because of a virus mainly affecting horses. An outbreak of vesicular stomatitis began in Colorado in July, but as warm temperatures persist into the fall, the flies that carry the virus keep breeding.

The vesicular stomatitis virus causes painful blisters and sores around the mouth and nose of the affected animal and occasionally around the foot. Without treatment animals can die.

"The area between Denver and Fort Collins, initially that's where we saw most of our cases," said State veterinarian Dr. Keith Roehr. "And now we're seeing some movement to the south, to the east and some even as far south as La Junta there are new cases."

Pueblo County now has the most properties quarantined with 23 as of Oct. 22.

Credit Colorado Department of Agriculture
As of Oct. 22, 60 locations in Colorado are under quarantine after horses and cows tested positive for vesicular stomatitis.

Recommendations to livestock owners from the Colorado Department of Agriculture include keeping fly populations in check, avoiding the transfer of feeding equipment, cleaning tools or health care equipment from other herds, and watching livestock for signs of infection.

"Winter can't come soon enough," said Dr. Roehr. "My hope is that realistically probably early to mid-December we should be able to release the last of those premises that are under quarantine."

Some states have put new restrictions on Colorado horsesfrom entering without a clean bill of health. It's been nine years since the last significant outbreak in Colorado. Since the 2014 outbreak began, there have been 334 quarantined properties statewide. Larimer and Weld counties have had the most cases overall.

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