In a news release on November 24th, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) has confirmed a diagnosis of Vesicular Stomatitis (VS) in cattle on two farms in Wheeler County in Nebraska. Livestock on both farms have been placed under quarantine.

NDA is working to determine the source of the disease, and taking all appropriate measures to protect surrounding livestock herds from the disease. This positive diagnosis makes Nebraska the third state to have VS diagnosed this year following Texas and Colorado.

Vesicular stomatitis is a viral disease that primarily affects horses and cattle and occasionally swine, sheep, goats, llamas, and alpacas.

While vesicular stomatitis does not generally cause death in animals, it can still cause economic losses to livestock producers.

The disease is particularly significant because its outward signs are similar to those of foot-and-mouth disease, a foreign animal disease of cloven-hoofed animals that was eradicated from the United States in 1929. The clinical signs of vesicular stomatitis are also similar to those of swine vesicular disease, another foreign animal disease. The only way to tell these diseases apart is through laboratory tests.

In affected livestock, the incubation period for vesicular stomatitis ranges from 2 to 8 days. Often, excessive salivation (slobbering) is the first sign of the disease. Close examination of the mouth initially reveals blister-like lesions on the inner surfaces of the lips, gums, tongue, and/or dental pad. These blister-like lesions can also form on the lips, nostrils, coronary band, prepuce, vulva, and teats. The blisters swell and break, which causes oral pain and discomfort and reluctance to eat or drink. Lameness and severe weight loss may follow. Affected animals will typically recover in 10-15 days after the onset of signs.

Vesicular stomatitis can be spread by insect vectors, mechanical transmission, and movement of animals. Once the disease is introduced into a herd, it may move from animal to animal by direct contact or exposure to saliva or fluid from ruptured blisters.

There is no specific treatment or cure for vesicular stomatitis. NDA urges producers with animals that might be experiencing suspicious signs to contact their veterinarian immediately.

For more detailed information and photographs of VS affected animals, please see the Colorado State University document "Vesicular Stomatitis" (PDF 106KB).

The USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has information about VS available online at http://tinyurl.com/pnr38ee.