media release

Colorado Department of Agriculture




June 1, 2012

Contact:    Christi Lightcap, (303) 239-4190,


UPDATE:  Second Case of Vesicular Stomatitis Confirmed in New Mexico

Strict Fly Control Encouraged


LAKEWOOD, Colo. – New Mexico has reported a second case of vesicular stomatitis (VS) that was confirmed on May 31st near the town of Peralta, just south of Albuquerque.  This second case represents a northern movement of the virus that has been typical in past years.  The primary spread of VS is thought to occur through insect vectors that migrate along river valleys.   Colorado livestock owners are warned to take added precautions due to the proximity of the virus.


“Vesicular Stomatitis can be painful for the animals and costly to their owners,” said State Veterinarian, Dr. Keith Roehr.  “While this virus does not typically cause death, the animal can suffer from painful sores so it is important to monitor herds for symptoms.”


VS is a Foreign Animal Disease that occurs sporadically in certain areas of the western United States.  Index cases are typically seen in Texas, New Mexico or Arizona.  The last confirmed case of VS in Colorado was in 2006.   Veterinarians and livestock owners who suspect an animal may have vesicular stomatitis or any other vesicular disease should immediately contact State or Federal animal health authorities.  Livestock with symptoms of VS are isolated until they are cleared through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s diagnostic laboratory testing.  There are no USDA approved vaccines for VS.


While rare, human cases of VS can occur, usually among those who handle infected animals. VS in humans can cause flu-like symptoms and only rarely includes lesions or blisters.


Vesicular Stomatitis (VS) Signs and Transmission

VS susceptible species include horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, deer and other species of animals. The clinical signs of the disease include vesicles, erosions and sloughing of the skin on the muzzle, tongue, teats and above the hooves of susceptible livestock. Vesicles are usually only seen early in the course of the disease.


As the disease progresses, the ruptured vesicles erode to produce areas where the epithelium sloughs. Animals with oral lesions may refuse to eat and/or drink due to discomfort which results in weight loss. Coronary band lesions can result in lameness in one or more feet. In severe situations, the hoof may slough or hoof growth may be permanently impacted.


The transmission of VS virus is not fully understood. Most cases are likely spread by insect vectors particularly along river valleys. Biting flies have been shown, both in natural and experimental infections, to be capable of transmitting VS. Sand flies (Lutzomyia spp.) and black flies (Simulium spp.) have been identified as important species in the transmission of VS.


Tips for Livestock Owners


For additional information, contact the Colorado State Veterinarian’s office at 303-239-4161 or visit