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Contagious Virus Confirmed In Horses In Parts Of The High Plains

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A virus confirmed in horses in New Mexico, Texas and Colorado has animal health officials in Kansas warning livestock owners to take precautions at places such as horse competitions.  

Vesicular stomatitis (VSV) can spread between horses, cattle and pigs … or even people. The virus is spread by direct contact or flies.

Andy Hawkins, with the Kansas Department of Agriculture, says horse owners should take precautions to limit contact between animals. And, be careful not to spread the disease from animals that may be sick.

“If somebody was to touch that and then touch another horse, or even through clothing or equipment or tack. That’s kind of how we can see it spreading,” Hawkins said.

It typically isn’t fatal, but lesions around the nose and mouth can make it difficult for an animal to eat and drink.

And as The Associated Press reports, Colorado officials are asking ranchers to report sick animals after the state Department of Agriculture confirmed more than two dozen cases of the VS  virus as of last week.

Cases have been confirmed in Weld, La Plata and Larimer counties.

The animals affected have been quarantined.

According to the Kansas Department of Agriculture, the primary way the virus is transmitted is from biting insects like black flies, sand flies and midges.

Livestock owners should report any symptoms of the virus to a veterinarian right away. 

Stephen Koranda is the Statehouse Bureau Chief for Kansas Public Radio.