Horse disease spreads to county
A highly contagious virus that typically affects horses was confirmed Thursday in Marion County.
Vesicular stomatitis virus was first confirmed June 16 in Butler County but has since spread to Marion, Cowley, Sedgwick, Sumner counties.
Veterinarian Jessica Lauren at Animal Health Center in Marion said Thursday she’d received a call from the state veterinarian that morning telling her that a horse under her care tested positive.
The horse was tested by United States Department of Agriculture and is one of three horses on the property, she said.
The virus is transmitted by black and sand flies, midges, and nose-to-nose contact. It causes lesions on the muzzle, lips, ears, coronary bands, and ventral abdomen. It also can cause fever and blister-like lesions on the mouth, tongue, lips, nostrils, ears, hooves, and teats. An animal infected with the disease may refuse to eat or drink.
Control measures can be difficult, Lauren said.
“Realistically on the farm, with biting insects, that’s hard to do,” she said.
Lauren recommends horse-owners get good quality fly spray.
Horses aren’t the only animals affected by the virus. It can spread to cattle, sheep, goats, swine, llamas, and alpacas. In rare instances, humans who care for animals can develop flu-like symptoms.
Lauren said regulations related to the outbreak could affect stockmen’s ability to ship cattle out of state.
She recommends horse owners frequently wash buckets and pans.
“Make sure you don’t share between horses on your place and horses on other places,” she said. “If anyone does find sores in the mouths of their horses, don’t hesitate to call their vet.”
She urges horse owners to regularly check the mouths of their horses.
“It’s a good time to make sure you’ve got good water coming out of the tank or barrel,” Lauren said.
Horses should also have clean hay, she said.
She also recommends not traveling with horses or buying them at auction just now.
“At this point it’s probably better to wait,” she said.
More than 30 pastures where the virus has shown up were placed under quarantine until 14 days after the last animal on the premises develops symptoms.
Although all confirmed cases so far are horses, some cattle have shown clinical signs of the disease. Test results are pending.
Veterinarian Brendan Kraus, who owns Spur Ridge Vet Hospital in Marion, said the main thing for horse owners to do is limit horses’ exposure to the disease.
“Insects, especially flies, are hard to control,” Kraus said. “I think just be cautious about where you go because of the virus. I wouldn’t say they should avoid going anywhere with their horses, but be cautious where they take them.
“It’s good to be cautious with horses anyway because there are other diseases they can get as well.”
Saje Bayes, owner of GWS Appaloosas, said she thought most horse people were treading with caution even before the virus hit Marion County. She’s taking horses only to the vet.
She and her mother, Amy Bayes, owner of Greenwood Stables and Rescue, 4 miles east of Peabody, said she didn’t want its horses to be exposed.
Trail rides are not being done but rides in the pen still are, Amy Bayes said.
“It’s unfortunate that it’s come around and no one can figure out where it came from,” Amy Bayes said. “I would highly suggest that if anybody buys a horse, they quarantine for at least six weeks.”
She considers it a mistake that the state fair is still scheduled
“Not only is there COVID but there’s this going around,” she said.
Last modified July 9, 2020