Vesicular Stomatitis confirmed in contract act horse at the Cheyenne Frontier Days

July 23, 2015

The PRCA is working with Cheyenne Frontier Days (CFD) and the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) and to contain the potential spread of a non-fatal but troublesome virus that infected a CFD trick-rider's horse. The horse's symptoms were discovered by CFD veterinarians and reported to the WLSB on Monday, July 20, 2015. The USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa confirmed the horse tested positive for Vesicular Stomatitis (VSV) the day after the symptoms were found. VSV causes vesicles (blisters) that form in the mouth (on the tongue, dental pad and lips), in the nostrils, on areas around the hooves and on the teats. These vesicles swell and break exposing raw tissue. 

The horse was used on the track during the CFD and has since been moved to its home ranch and remains under isolation and quarantine. The leadership at Cheyenne Frontier Days reports that the horse was stalled quite a distance from stalls used by contestants in a separate area used by contract acts. Those stalls have since been disinfected and locked and all horses that were stalled near the infected horse are being constantly monitored. 

The virus has been known to be spread by flies as well as contact with an infected animal or contact with equipment or facilities that may had contact with the virus. Veterinarians are keeping a close eye on all of the livestock at the CFD and no other animals with any symptoms have been found at this time. VSV-infected horses and/or cattle have been found already in 2015 in Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Arizona. VSV can threaten other livestock species, including sheep, goats and pigs. 

PRCA has already worked to inform those WPRA and PRCA contestants who are entered in Cheyenne via email. 

1. Fly control is important, remove manure promptly and spray and wipe your horses down with fly repellent. 
2. Avoid nose to nose contact with your horse and others.
3. Do not share any equipment including water buckets, bridles, feed buckets or use communal watering troughs. 
4. Do not tie your horse to fences where they could have contact with other horses. 
5. Take your horse's temperature in the morning and at night. If you horse is running a temperature above 102˚F, contact a veterinarian immediately.
6. Isolate horses that have been to rodeos from other horses after returning home for 2 weeks if possible. 

If you notice your horse experiencing excessive salivation, blistering or frothing at the mouth and reluctance to eat, contact a veterinarian immediately. 

If you have been at Cheyenne with your horse please monitor closely and strictly comply to the above recommendations. State and Federal animal health officials take Vesicular Stomatitis and other contagious animal disease issues very seriously and if confirmatory testing is positive you can expect possible quarantines, extra health paper requirements, enhanced state livestock import requirements, inspections and other preventative measures. Please comply with these measures to assist animal health officials in keeping livestock in the United States healthy. 

Traveling with Livestock 

Contact the state you will be traveling to in order to get the latest import requirement. 

Contact information for State Animal Health Officials 
A few states we already are aware have additional requirements for import from areas with confirmed VS 
South Dakota (You must call and get an import permit for all livestock including horses)
Canada If you are planning on taking any livestock into Canada there will no doubt be additional requirements and possibly restrictions. 


1. Fly control. Eliminate breeding grounds for vectors specifically, the black fly, by daily removal of manure and elimination of standing water. Utilize fly wipes, sprays, foggers and other repellents for use on animals and premises should be applied as directed by label instructions. Encourage use of pyrethrin fly spray labelled for horses especially during peak black fly mid-morning and at dusk in the evening.

2. Disinfect. Utilize disinfectant to disinfect communal areas and equipment. Effective disinfectants include 2% sodium carbonate, 4% sodium hydroxide, 2% iodophore disinfectants, chlorine dioxide disinfectants, ether and other organic solvents, and 1% formalin.

3. Inspection of livestock. Work with your on-site veterinarian to put into place an inspection process of horses coming onto the grounds. At time of arrival onto event grounds, inspect all horses from vesicular stomatitis affected state for blister like lesions in the mouth (tongue, lips), the nostrils, around the coronary band of the hooves, inner or outer ear. Continue by regularly observing all susceptible livestock on event grounds for clinical signs of VS during your rodeo. Often, excess salivation is often the first sign of disease.

Full protocol from the Colorado Department of Agriculture for Show and Fairs (PDF) 

Information Courtesy of the California Department of Food and Agriculture 

Vesicular Stomatitis (VS) is a viral disease affecting cattle, horses, swine, sheep, goats, many wild animals, and occasionally humans. VS causes vesicles (blisters) that form in the mouth (on the tongue, dental pad and lips), in the nostrils, on areas around the hooves and on the teats. These vesicles swell and break exposing raw tissue.

In cloven-hoofed animals these vesicles mimic the vesicles observed with Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD), a foreign animal disease eradicated from the U.S. in 1929. However, FMD does not cause vesicles in horses.

Sampling and rapid diagnosis are essential when vesicles are observed in cattle and other cloven-hoofed animals. There is no specific treatment for animals infected with VS and no vaccines are available to prevent this disease.

Biting insects and animal-to-animal contact may spread the disease throughout the herd. An infected animal's saliva and fluid from ruptured vesicles can contaminate feed and water, further spreading the disease.

Livestock usually show signs 2-8 days after exposure to the virus. The first noticeable sign is usually excessive salivation due to the vesicles in the mouth. Vesicles may also be found on the nostrils and around the hooves and teats. Animals may refuse to eat or drink and may show signs of lameness. Affected animals usually recover within two weeks.

Anyone noting signs of a vesicular condition should immediately notify their veterinarian or State or Federal animal health officials. Diagnosing VS cannot be made based on clinical signs; sampling and laboratory testing is crucial to differentiate it from other diseases such as FMD. Early detection is vital in preventing the nation-wide spread of FMD.

Please contact me with any questions or concerns,
Cindy Schonholtz