PITTSBURG — As nearby states report confirmed cases of a virus affecting livestock, the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) is encouraging awareness and the taking of precautions by animal owners.

Texas, Colorado and New Mexico have reported multiple cases of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV).

“VSV is a viral disease which primarily affects horses, but can also affect cattle, sheep, goats, swine, llamas and alpacas,” a recent department press release notes. “The disease is characterized by fever and the formation of blister-like lesions in the mouth and on the dental pad, tongue, lips, nostrils, ears, hooves and teats. Infected animals may refuse to eat and drink, which can lead to weight loss. There are no USDA-approved vaccines for VSV.”

Precautions are particularly encouraged among animals that may be comingling with animals brought from other areas. This is especially important to keep in mind with county fair season approaching.

Andy Hawkins, assistant animal health commissioner at the KDA, further described symptoms of the virus in a recent television interview with KSNT News.

“It’s a painful disease,” Hawkins said. “Their mouth is painful, and again you’re probably going to see the drooling, some weight loss, animals are just not feeling like themselves.”

The KDA’s news release notes that the virus is primarily transmitted by biting insects such as black flies, sand flies and midges. “Owners should consider treatments to reduce insects where animals are housed,” it states. “VSV can also be spread by nose-to-nose contact between animals. The virus itself usually runs its course in five to seven days, and it can take up to an additional seven days for the infected animal to recover from the symptoms. Premises with animals diagnosed with VSV are quarantined until at least 14 days after the last affected animal is diagnosed.”

VSV is a reportable disease in Kansas, and anyone who suspects their animals may be suffering from it should contact their local veterinarian or state animal health official, the KDA advises. The department has taken some steps to limit the spread of the disease into the state.

“KDA has implemented increased importation requirements from the affected regions to help prevent the spread of VSV into Kansas,” the department’s release notes. “Likewise, many states have now enhanced their importation requirements as well. Therefore, animal health officials strongly encourage all livestock owners and veterinarians to call the animal health authority in the destination state for the most current import requirements prior to travel.”