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Russell Nemetz Colorado Department of Agriculture Warns Against Vesicular Stomatitis Misinformation
by Russell Nemetz, click here for bio

Program: Land & Livestock Report
Date: August 19, 2019

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As Colorado's livestock communities continue to manage a significant vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) outbreak affecting 20 counties across the state, misinformation about the virus is being shared on social media channels and traditional media outlets. The initial source of the inaccurate reporting, comparing VSV to a "rabies-like" virus, was an Associated Press article that was reposted by a number of media outlets. The article has since been corrected.

"It is highly misleading to say that vesicular stomatitis virus is a rabies-like virus. Both viruses belong to the same family, Rhabdoviridae, but that classification is based on viral structure alone," said Maggie Baldwin, Epidemiology Traceability Veterinarian for the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA). "The two diseases have no similarities in transmission, clinical signs, or outcome."

VSV is a virus from the genus Vesiculovirus. VSV is a viral disease that causes blisters and ulcers on the mouth, feet, ears, and udder of cattle, horses, and swine, and occasionally mules, donkeys, sheep, goats, llamas, and alpacas. The rabies virus is from the genus Lyssavirus. Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system of mammals and has an extremely high case fatality rate.

VSV is not considered a highly contagious virus, as it is spread primarily through insect vectors, and rarely through saliva or other contact. Please refer to the CDA VSV website for accurate information and resources.

CDA has confirmed cases of VSV in Adams, Alamosa, Arapahoe, Archuleta, Boulder, Broomfield, Conejos, Delta, Douglas, Gilpin, Grand, Jefferson, La Plata, Larimer, Mesa, Mineral, Montezuma, Montrose, Morgan, Ouray, Pueblo, and Weld counties.

ALL VSV cases are important for the epidemiology and management of this outbreak and MUST be reported to the State Veterinarian's Office at 303-869-9130, regardless if the owner and veterinarian decide to have their livestock tested or choose to manage as positive premises based on the presence of typical clinical signs without testing. The only cases that may be managed as suspect positive are equine cases located in counties that have confirmed cases.

Equine owners and livestock producers across the state are impacted by VSV; all livestock owners should carefully watch the case numbers and affected counties to gauge their level of risk and institute mitigation measures.

The total count of premises under quarantine for VSV by county is outlined in the table below. CDA's Animal Health division is updating this table regularly with the latest data on its CDA VSV website.

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