Animal health officials in Texas and Colorado are hoping for a short summer and an early autumn, the only apparent hope to slow the spread of a nagging Vesicular stomatitis (VS) outbreak that has spread wildly in Colorado and Texas in recent weeks.

VS, a virus with symptoms similar to the more serious and dreaded hoof and mouth disease, is a naturally occurring animal illness that shows up every five years or so across the American Southwest, possibly wintering in northern Mexico just south of the Texas and New Mexico state lines.

"It's not unusual to find VS every few years, mostly in New Mexico and occasionally spreading into Colorado and Texas, but we haven't seen a case in Texas for several years," said Dr. Terry Hensley, assistant agency director at the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory in College Station. "How it comes and where it goes remains under research, but we think weather conditions like we experienced last fall and into the spring season this year may have a lot to do with it being vectored by gnats and flies that can broadcast the virus over large areas."

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VS emerged this year near Del Rio in southwest Texas. The National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa, confirmed a finding of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) infection (New Jersey serotype) on an equine premises in Kinney County May 23. Four affected horses on the premises met the case definition of infection with compatible clinical symptoms.