Vesicular Stomatitis is a viral disease that causes blisters in the mouth and occasionally blisters to the coronet band and teats. This disease is highly contagious and must is reportable to State and Federal animal authorities, and the movement of horses from a positive testing facility is restricted.
WHO IS AT RISK:
Horses, cattle, and humans are all at the highest risk of contracting Vesicular Stomatitis. Other hooved animals such as sheep, swine, and llamas may contract the disease, but it is less common.
HOW IT SPREADS:
The exact methods of transmission are not fully known. It is likely biting insects play a role as peak outbreaks happen during the hot summer months through fall. Horse-to-horse contact can spread the disease via contact with saliva or fluid from ruptured blisters. Horses may also become ill from contaminated buckets, bits, tack, grooming supplies, stalls, trailers, or any shared surface or object.
– Excessive saliva production, foaming at the mouth and drooling.
– Lack of interest in eating or drinking.
– Blisters on the inside of the mouth including, lips, tongue, and gums.
– Blisters in the nostril and on the coronet band.
– Fever upon initial development of blisters.
– Weight loss from lack of appetite due to mouth pain.
– Horses become dehydrated because it is too painful to drink.
– Lameness and swelling when blistering at the coronet band.
– Infection and ulceration of ruptured blisters.
– Infecting humans from contact with saliva or blister fluids (This is rare).
Treatment consists of supportive care. Your veterinarian may prescribe medications for pain and inflammation or treat secondary infections with antibiotics. If a horse becomes dehydrated, it may require IV fluids. Feeding moist feed may improve appetite. The goal is to keep them comfortable and prevent complications while the disease runs its course, which usually takes about two weeks. Pain from the wounds healing may last longer.
– Implement biosecurity measures.
– Practice effective pest and fly control programs that reduce breeding grounds.
– Disinfect buckets and tack regularly.
– Follow the “One Bucket, One Horse Rule” (Don’t share buckets and feeders).
– Handle all sick horses last.
– Isolate sick horses from the herd and stall them away from healthy horses.
– Quarantine all new horses coming into the barn for 21 days.
– Keep horses in overall good health and condition through proper nutrition and exercise. A healthy horse will likely have a more robust immune system.
– Wear gloves and a mask when handling sick horses to protect yourself from saliva and fluid contact.