05/28/2014 3:26PM

Viral infection hits five horses in southwest Texas


The first cases of vesicular stomatitis in the U.S. this year have been confirmed in five horses in southwest Texas, the Texas Animal Health Commission announced Wednesday. The horses are in Kinney County, near Del Rio. There are no racetrack facilities operating in Kinney County.

VS is a viral infection characterized by lesions that can be found in such areas as a horse’s mouth and hoof area on the coronary band. The lesions can take two to three weeks to heal. In some cases, horses will refuse feed and water because of pain caused by the blisters. 

The Texas horses were diagnosed after their owner reported swelling on the muzzles of the animals. Tests confirmed the virus as the New Jersey serotype, according to the release. The cases are the first confirmed in Texas since 2009, according to Dr. Dee Ellis, executive director of the Texas Animal Health Commission.

The infected horses now are in quarantine and will be for a minimum of 21 days. There have been no reports of VS anywhere else in the state, according to the release. Lone Star Park, which is racing Thoroughbreds, is located in north Texas near Dallas, while Retama Park, which will soon open a Quarter Horse meet, borders northern San Antonio.

VS outbreaks can sometimes restrict travel of horses between states.

The Texas Racing Commission is sharing the new VS case information with all veterinarians at the state’s racetracks and asking them to be on the lookout for any symptoms, said a spokesperson for the commission.