The New Mexico Livestock Board is asking owners to check their livestock for vesicular stomatitis after a horse was discovered Monday infected with the virus on a property in Otero County, a NMLB spokeswoman said.
The property is located outside of Tularosa with a low density of livestock population. The infected horse is among a herd of five equines.
NMLB spokeswoman Katie Goetz said none of the five horses have been off the property in a year.
Goetz said no further cases have been identified in the state at this time.
The equine property is under quarantine by order of the state veterinarian.
Goetz said the livestock board is working with USDA Veterinary Services to ensure the case discovered remains an isolated case.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it's not fully known how vesicular stomatitis is spread. Some of the factors include insect vectors, mechanical transmission and movement of animals.
Vesicular stomatitis is not usually fatal. The virus primarily affects cattle, horses and pigs and causes blister-like lesions that can be painful enough to limit the animal's eating and drinking habits.
USDA Veterinary Services and NMLB are conducting surveillance examinations of all livestock in the immediate area to make sure the infection is contained.
The last serious outbreak of vesicular stomatitis was in 2005.
According to USDA, good sanitation and quarantine practices on affected farms usually control the infection until it subsides and soon ends. The affected animals typically recover in two weeks.
Goetz said the Otero County property is scheduled to be under quarantine for more than 21 days.
"USDA makes it so that premises containing affected animals are quarantined 21 days after the lesions in the last affected animal have healed," she said. "As long as the lesions are present the quarantine clock has not started ticking yet. The incubation period is about two to eight days. It's not entirely clear how this particular case occurred. At this point there is no reason to believe that it is present in no more than just the one animal, but NMLB is stepping up to make sure to do their due diligence."
New Mexico state veterinarian Dr. Dave Fly said livestock owners need to inspect their livestock for vesicular stomatitis.
"These horses usually recover nicely," Fly said. "It's not usually fatal. It runs its course and is uncomfortable. The supportive treatment is making sure they eat soft food and drink water. These horses seem to be recovering without difficulty. It can affect hoofed animals. Owners need to inspect their animals carefully by looking for lesions in the mouth or swelling in the foot or hoof. If they do find symptoms, they need to call their veterinarian and have an exam."
He said quarantining the animals limits the spread of the virus to other animals.
"It's a very concerning disease because it's somewhat debilitating," Fly said. "Early on, supportive care and keeping the damage minimized is very important. If livestock owners detect it in their animals, they should report it. Producers traveling out of state with their livestock need to check with the state of destination because other states have put up restrictions on livestock movement from the state of New Mexico."
He said he believes it's going to impact horse shows because of the restriction other states have put on New Mexico livestock.
"Certain states will have restrictions on horses coming into New Mexico and returning to their state of origin," Fly said. "There are also some national and international ramifications. If anyone is planning to move livestock out of state, they need to check their destination's restrictions first for now."
Managers and producers of major equine shows and events are strongly encouraged to call the state veterinarian at (505) 841-6161 for guidance on how to minimize disruption of shows and events.
Any movement restrictions will be forwarded to New Mexico veterinarians and posted on the NMLB website at www.nmlbonline.com.
For information on international shipment, contact USDA Veterinary Services' offices in Albuquerque at (505) 761-3160.