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Bastrop County Sees Dozens Of Cases Of Virus Affecting Horses

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon

Almost 60 horses have been released from a two-week quarantine in Bastrop County after an outbreak of vesicular stomatitis virus, or VSV, according to the Texas Animal Health Commission.

Since late June, 37 Texas counties have seen outbreaks of VSV, which mostly affects livestock animals like horses and cattle. Symptoms include blister-like lesions, fever, drooling or frothing at the mouth, loss of appetite and lameness. Humans can also contract the disease, but it is very rare. 

TAHC epidemiologist Susan Rollo said outbreaks usually occur during the summer months in Texas and near bodies of water. VSV is commonly spread black flies, midge bites, sandflies and other insects.

“We typically see this virus every five to 10 years, historically,” said Rollo.

This year, Bastrop County saw the highest number of cases in Texas, followed by Travis County at 17 cases and Williamson County with 11. The disease rarely threatens the animal’s life but it can make the animal uncomfortable. The virus usually runs its course within two weeks.

“[Horse owners] need to contact their private veterinarian [who] will usually just treat the lesions on the tongue around mouth,” Rollo said. “[TAHC] recommends they control and reduce the exposure to flies in their barns as a preventative.”

The last outbreak occurred in 2014. Texas had the second most outbreaks in the country, trailing far behind Colorado, which had over 600 cases.

“We’re close to the end of the outbreak we hope,” said Rollo.

DaLyah Jones is a former assistant producer for All Things Considered and evening host. She is also co-host of the Two & Fro podcast.
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