VS is a viral infection that can cause blisters and sores in the mouth and on the tongue, muzzle, teats or hooves of horses, cattle, swine, sheep, goats, llamas and other animals. Lesions usually heal in two or three weeks.

Because of the contagious nature of VS and its resemblance to other diseases such as foot and mouth disease (FMD), however, animal health officials urge livestock owners and caretakers to report these symptoms to their veterinarians immediately. Most animals recover well with supportive care by a veterinarian, but some lesions can be painful.

While human are not immune from effects of VS, human cases are generally limited to flu-like symptoms that disappear after a few days. Animal health officials advise animal handlers to wear protective gloves when working with livestock and to wash hands regularly. In addition, animal handlers are advised to avoid contact with infected animals if possible.

Animal health officials say VS outbreaks are not unusual and not considered to be a life-threatening condition, but the disease can spread quickly between infected animals. Horse and livestock owners are urged to carefully monitor stock and watch for early signs or symptoms of the disease and should report those symptoms immediately when they occur.

More information about VS is available at http://www.tahc.state.tx.us/news/brochures/TAHCBrochure_VS.pdf .