N.M. Livestock Board

The New Mexico Livestock Board 

Vesticular Stomatitis (VS) Affects New Mexico

Vesicular Stomatitis (VS) continues to affect the livestock population in New Mexico. The disease primarily affects cattle, horses, and swine, but also can be contracted by sheep and camelids. It is spread by a number of vectors, most commonly small biting insects such as gnats. Although VS seems to follow river valleys as it spreads, outbreaks are not uncommon outside those areas and can affect the entire state. The disease causes painful sores in and around the mouths and, occasionally, on the coronary bands of livestock. Very painful, it can last approximately a week during which time the animal has great difficulty eating and drinking. Once cases appear, VS generally remains active until hard freezes occur in the late fall or winter.

The disease is particularly important to control because it has very similar visible characteristics to Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), an extremely virulent fast spreading disease that, if ever re-introduced into the United States will cause huge losses to the livestock industry and economic havoc across the country. A look-alike “masking” disease like VS must be kept from hiding such a devastating potential.

When VS appears, many states typically institute measures placing conditions on livestock entering from exposed areas. Such is the case with New Mexico during this outbreak; therefore, the Livestock Board must institute sufficient quarantine and regulatory requirements in order to keep the trade lanes open and protect this state’s livestock economy. Keep up to date by regular contact with your veterinarian and your local livestock inspector, and watch for updates posted on the NMLB website, www.nmlbonline.com .

Regulatory requirements are not the only measures that should be relied upon. Livestock owners should be expected to take the measures necessary to protect their livestock and those of others. Events that involve the commingling of livestock pose risk of spread of VS and should be approached with diligence and common sense, such as the following :

  • Use insect repellant products (sprays, eartags etc.), fly sheets and other measures to keep biting insects off your stock.
  • Take steps to control or eliminate sites where biting insects such as flies or mosquitoes might multiply.
  • Check your animals daily for signs and lesions suggesting the presence of VS, and report any suspicious lesions to your veterinarian or to the State Veterinarian’s Office immediately.
  • Avoid travel to areas of the State where active cases are documented or to areas considered higher risk for the emergence of cases.
  • Avoid participation in events where livestock have not been examined for VS.

Consider the exposure of your own animals at any event where the livestock are not being examined. Participation under that kind of risk may not be worthwhile.

Regardless of the level of regulatory requirement, at the end of the day the only real protector of livestock is its owner.

Be smart, be diligent, protect your animals.