N.M. Livestock Board

The New Mexico Livestock Board 

NMLB Tightens Up VS Rule to Protect State’s Livestock

As part of the ongoing effort to control New Mexico’s outbreak of vesicular stomatitis (VS), the New Mexico Livestock Board recently amended the existing VS rule.

Effective August 23, all livestock attending public livestock events, large and small, including fairs, gymkhanas, horse shows or ropings, must be accompanied by a current health certificate, or certificate of veterinary inspection (CVI), issued within the past five days. Livestock without the proper documentation will be turned away.

Under the previous rule, livestock could be admitted to an event without a CVI if a veterinarian was on site to do an examination in lieu of the CVI. Event organizers are encouraged to have a designated veterinarian on site, and that veterinarian has the option to issue a CVI onsite, but all animals must now be accompanied by that piece of paper, explained Myles Culbertson, Director of the New Mexico Livestock Board.

“We understand that it’s a pain, and that it’s expensive for people to get their horses continually looked at by a vet, but we have to look at bigger picture,” he said. “We have to understand the linkage between competitive events and the export of cattle from this state.”

“We are approaching the fall shipping season in New Mexico, and it’s necessary for our agency to raise our level of diligence and tighten up the state to ensure that the trade lanes stay open,” he continued. “If New Mexico is seen as treating this situation casually, or if an outbreak in another state is traced back to animals originating from New Mexico, we would see all kinds of sanctions against New Mexico livestock, which would have a materially detrimental effect on cattle production in our state.

The NMLB plans to increase enforcement at organized events. Due to limited manpower and resources, the agency will do a risk assessment of events, and balance that risk against the need for road stops and other duties.

Like it or not, he explained, events where livestock are highly concentrated and co-mingled are where the risk lies. At a recent event in Northern New Mexico, the New Mexico State Police was called in to assist NMLB inspectors turning away a highly belligerent contestant who arrived without a CVI for his horse. Several days later, that horse and several others on the same property were identified as suspect cases of VS and quarantined, awaiting test results. “This is a perfect example of how one person could have created a huge problem for the livestock industry in our state.”

The entire state remains at risk for this contagious disease, which causes painful lesions on animals’ nose and mouth. While it’s most prevalent in horses, it can also affect horses, swine, sheep and camelids.

To protect against the disease, which is spread primarily by biting insects, livestock owners should use common sense when deciding where to transport their livestock, use fly tags and insect repellent when necessary, and contact their veterinarian immediately if they suspect their animal has been infected.