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Ag officials send alert about horse virus found in Buffalo County

Ag officials send alert about horse virus found in Buffalo County

  • Updated

LINCOLN — A horse in Buffalo County has a confirmed case of vesicular stomatitis, according to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

As of Thursday, NDA officials said in a press release, one other horse on the infected premises also is exhibiting VS symptoms.

All animals on the premises will be quarantined for at least 14 days after the onset of lesions in the last affected animal.

VS is a viral disease primarily affecting horses and cattle. It also can affect sheep, goats and swine.

The disease is characterized by fever and formation of blister-like lesions in the mouth and on the dental pad, tongue, lips, nostrils, hooves and teats.

When blisters break, there usually is salivation and nasal discharge. As a result of the painful lesions, infected animals may refuse to eat and drink, which can lead to weight loss.

Currently, there are no U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved vaccines for VS.

“Vesicular stomatitis is primarily transmitted through the bite of infected black flies, sand flies and midges,” said state veterinarian Dr. Dennis Hughes. “There are things livestock owners can do to reduce flies and other insects where animals are housed, but until freezing temperatures move in and kill the insects that spread the virus, VS will continue to be a threat in Nebraska.”

Hughes added that since it also can spread by contact between animals and by shared equipment such as tools or tack, “we want livestock owners to be aware and practice good biosecurity measures with their animals, particularly with animals that may comingle with others.”

To help prevent the disease spread, Nebraska has import restrictions for livestock coming into the state from other states with confirmed VS cases.

People considering moving an animal to Nebraska from an affected state should call 402-471-2351 to learn more about the importation order.

VS also affects exports.

Nebraskans transporting animals and animal products to other states and countries should contact the destination state or country to learn about their import requirements.

“The virus itself usually runs its course in five to seven days,” Hughes said, “and it can take up to an additional seven days for an infected animal to recover from the symptoms.”

It’s rare that humans become infected when handling VS-affected animals, but people should avoid exposure by using personal protective measures when handling such animals.

Anyone with concerns about VS or who suspects a VS case should call NDA at 402-471-2351. Learn more at

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