Officials prepping for livestock virus spreading in nearby states


TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – A livestock disease is spreading in states around Kansas. Multiple cases have shown up in Colorado, Texas, and New Mexico.

Now the state Department of Agriculture is trying to make sure it doesn’t spread in Kansas.

Vesicular Stomatitis virus is a disease that primarily affects horses, but cattle, sheep and other livestock can be harmed too.

It causes blisters in the mouth and spreads to the rest of the body.

“It’s a painful disease,” said Andy Hawkins, assistant animal health commissioner at the state Department of Agriculture.

“They’re mouth is painful, and again you’re probably going to see the drooling, some weight loss, animals are just not feeling like themselves,” he said.

Farm shows, county fairs, and other equine events would mean if the virus reaches Kansas, it could have a path to spread.

“You have probably 50 or 60 different herds that are mixed together here, so you really got to be careful that you don’t take something home, so I might quarantine my horse after I leave here and then watch it,” said livestock farmer Leroy Russell talking about horse shows in Topeka.

The Department of Agriculture is making livestock owners from out of state prove that their animals aren’t infected.

“Basically we’ve increased the requirement coming from a county where there’s been a known positive,” said Hawkins.

He said getting the word out in the state is also important.

“We have a very broad community of horses and we’ve got a lot of equine events that come up and what not so definitely it’s something that we want the equine community to be aware of.”

Leroy Russell has horses and cattle at this farm. He said he monitors his animals to make sure nothing’s wrong with them.

“It would stick out to you, you know the habits whether it’s horses or cattle, you know the first one that comes to the bunk, you know which one always eats, and then you just kind of look at how they’re breathing, if their head’s down low, their ears are drooped,” said Russell.

The department says the virus can be transmitted from biting flies or nose-to-nose contact between animals.

If you do encounter an animal with these symptoms, the department recommends you talk to a local veterinarian or a state animal health expert. You should also keep your animals away from other livestock for two weeks after the last diagnosis.

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