Vesicular Stomatitis – Fact Sheet
What is vesicular stomatitis
Vesicular stomatitis (VS) is a viral disease affecting horses; ruminants such as cattle, sheep, members of the deer and llama families; and swine. While VS causes discomfort to affected animals and may result in loss of markets for live animals, meat and animal genetics, it is most significant because it closely resembles foot and mouth disease, which affects ruminants and swine and is a devastating disease for producers.
How is VS transmitted
The virus is spread by blood feeding insects such as midges and black flies, and by direct or indirect contact with saliva or fluid from lesions of clinically affected animals.
Spread of the disease in dairy herds may also occur as a result of milking procedures.
The disease may be transmitted to humans who come into contact with infected animals.
What are the signs of VS
Vesicular stomatitis causes a mild fever and the formation of blister like or crusting lesions on the inside of the mouth, the ears, on the lips, the nose, above the hooves and on the udder or sheath. The blisters break, leaving raw, sore areas. Affected animals often salivate profusely and are unwilling to eat or drink. Some animals, particularly swine, may become lame. Milking cows show a marked decrease in milk production. The incubation period (the time between infection with the virus and clinical signs) may range from 2 to 8 days, and animals generally recover completely in 3 to 4 days.
In humans, the virus generally causes influenza like symptoms, though oral lesions are possible and meningitis can occur in rare cases.
How is VS diagnosed
Vesicular stomatitis is diagnosed by laboratory testing on samples of fluid or swabs from the vesicles (blister like lesions) of affected animals, or by a blood sample.
What should I do if I think my animal might have VS
- Call your veterinarian immediately or call the nearest Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Animal Health Office
- All animals with lesions should be kept separate from healthy animals, preferably indoors.
- Do not move animals from your premises until a definitive diagnosis has been made
- Wear protective clothing and gloves when handling suspect animals to help prevent exposure to the virus
Do we have VS in Canada
Vesicular stomatitis was last diagnosed in Canada in 1949.
What does the CFIA do to prevent VS from entering Canada
The CFIA has taken the following measures to prevent the entry of this disease into Canada:
- Vesicular stomatitis is a reportable disease under the Health of Animals Act; this means that all suspected cases must be reported to the CFIA
- all reported suspect cases are immediately investigated by CFIA inspectors.
- should VS be diagnosed on a Canadian premises, a quarantine would be imposed to restrict movement of the animals this quarantine would be lifted 14 days after all clinical signs have disappeared
- when there is a VS outbreak in another country, the CFIA may require that all susceptible animals entering Canada from that country be examined by a federal veterinarian
- The veterinary authorities of the exporting country are required to provide certification that the animal was found clinically healthy prior to departure and did not originate from an area where the disease is active
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