USDA does not Recommend Cancelling Livestock and Equestrian Events Due to V.S. Concerns
Lesions of the mouth and gums associated with Vesicular Stomatitis. Image courtesy of TheHorse.com and Brian McCluskey.
Vesicular Stomatitis is an infectious disease that appears every few years in the arid Southwestern states. Although Colorado has seen a fairly high number of cases this year, the United States Department of Agriculture has stated that it is not necessary to cancel livestock and equestrian events, providing they follow key protocols. With Proper Protocols in Place USDA States There Is No Reason to Cancel Showsrecommended by the Colorado State Veterinarian: aggressive fly control, regular and prompt manure removal, physical inspections by qualified personnel of horses prior to unloading from trailers, and all horses must have health certificates issued between two and five days prior to arrival on the show grounds. Affected animals are only considered to be infectious if they have lesions present.
Under these guidelines and information, the Colorado Fall Classic (Sept. 11-14) at the Norris-Penrose Equestrian Center in Colorado Springs is going forward. “We really weighed our decision,” explains Show Manager Charlotte Skinner-Robson. “We only want to hold a show if horses can compete safely. In cooperation with the facility and following the recommendation of our show veterinarian, Dr. Brittany Factor, we are confident that we can provide a safe environment to hold the show.”
Although Langer Equestrian Group originally scheduled two shows, in consultation with veterinarians and input from many area professionals LEG made the decision to consolidate the two shows into one week. “This is one of the last major USEF National A shows, plus we are holding the ASPCA Maclay Regional Finals and World Champion Hunter Rider events,” Skinner-Robson adds. “We felt it was important to go ahead and hold the show in order to allow these classes to run, especially with the strict protocols we have in place to prevent the spread of V.S.”
LEG management carefully consulted a variety of resources on the subject of V.S., including Colorado Springs Fall Classic Horse Show Veterinarian, Dr. Brittany Factor. “V.S. is a significant disease with serious repercussions. It is essential that horse owners and event managers follow the recommendations of the USDA in regard to the health and safety of horses showing,” Dr. Factor explains. “Although there is no one precautionary measure that will guarantee prevention of disease spread, vector control is one of the most important. This is achieved through aggressive fly mitigation and prompt manure removal. Horse owners should use fly sprays, sheets, and masks whenever possible.” Dr. Factor has recommended that all horses be required to arrive at the show grounds with a certificate of veterinary inspection issued between two and five days prior to arrival. Additionally, Dr. Factor or a supervised, trained assistant will inspect horses prior to offloading from trailers. “It is easy to become overwhelmed by the large amount of information on the internet and social networking about V.S. I encourage competitors to consult with their veterinarians to facilitate making an educated decision regarding the showing of their horse and in implementing the best practices for reducing the risk of their horse(s) becoming ill.”
Colorado State University produced a webinar featuring Dr. Paul Morley, Director of Infection Control at James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital at the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences and Dr. Angela Pelzel-McCluskey, National Equine Epidemiologist, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The webinar, located at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnC7VwKcdMI
, gives valuable information about V.S. as well as the movement of animals into and out of affected states. The webinar also addressed the cancellation of livestock and equestrian events. “In speaking with State Veterinarian, Dr. Keith Roehr, The intention is that there will not be any restrictions or cancellation of shows at this point,” Dr. Morley states. “But they are recommending the protocols we have listed be in place. The best source of information for horse health or cattle health is your veterinarian. They’re the experts regarding the medical treatment of animals.”
Updates on the status of the outbreak can be found by googling “vesicular stomatitis USDA” or
For a prize list and entry blanks for Colorado Springs Fall Classic, visit the LEG website