Two horses in Southwest Missouri are the state’s first recorded cases of a contagious, but usually non-fatal virus. The Missouri Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday afternoon the confirmation of Vesicular Stomatitis Virus or VSV on a farm in Newton County. All susceptible animals on the premise have been quarantined, which will continue for at least two weeks. Efforts to trace back the potential source of infection are underway, but flies and midges are known to be a vector of the virus.

While primarily affecting horses, VSV can also impact cattle, swine, and other hooven animals. The virus causes blister-like lesions to appear in and around the mouth, nose, and coronary band. Crusting scabs can also appear on a horse’s muzzle, lips and ears. Excessive salivation, fever, and a reluctance to eat are also symptoms. Infected horses may be treated with anti-inflammatory medication to minimize swelling and kept on soft feeds to ensure they continue eating and drinking. The department recommends adopting tighter biosecurity measures including insect control programs, reducing contact between horses, and adopting an isolation protocol for horses returning to a farm. Suspected cases of VSV should be isolated and reported to the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s Division of Animal Health at 573-751-3377.

Missouri is the seventh state to register a case of VSV this year. The largest outbreak began last month in south-central Kansas, where 42 farms in nine counties are currently under quarantine. Cases have also been reported in Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.