Editor’s note: Figures have been updated to reflect data provided by the Texas Animal Health Commission on Aug. 16.
A viral disease, known to primarily affect horses and cattle, has arrived in Gonzales County after nearly a month of spreading across the region. As of Aug. 16, there has been one confirmed case of Vesicular Stomatitis (VSV) in Gonzales County and the premise was subsequently quarantined.
According to the Texas Animal Health Commission, VSV causes blisters, erosions in the mouth, excessive salivaor crusty sores around an animal’s muzzle, teats or hooves. Though it's mostly known to affect horses and cattle, the virus can also infect sheep, goats, llamas,
alpacas, swine, deer and some other species, including bobcats, raccoons and monkeys. Though rare, it is possible for humans to become infected with the virus when handling affected animals. Infected humans may develop a flu-like illness that last four to seven days.
VSV is curable and rarely fatal, but infected animals can lose condition due to not eating and drinking when ulcers and blisters near the mouth are present. Lesions on the hooves may limit an animals’ mobility and infected dairy cows often see a steep drop in milk production.
Infected animals are quarantined for at least two weeks to reduce risk of further spreading. Depending on the severity of the case, healing may take longer than two weeks or the owner may opt to euthanize the animal in especially severe cases.
The disease is thought to be transmitted by direct contact with infected animals or by blood-feeding insects like sandflies and black flies. Outbreaks typically occur in warmer months in areas along waterways. The last major VSV outbreak in Texas happened in 2014.
As of Aug. 16, there are no new confirmed or suspected cases in Gonzales County. However, there is one more suspected case in neighboring Bastrop County and another suspected case in Guadalupe County.
Bastrop has had a total of eight confirmed VSV positive and ongoing quarantine cases with a suspected 49 more. Ten premises in total are under quarantine in Bastrop County, which is the highest in the state. There currently have been 64 confirmed and quarantined cases in Texas.