The Mid America Classic, scheduled to start today and run through Aug. 10 in Pueblo, Colo., has been canceled due to concerns over a recent vesicular stomatitis outbreak in the state. E J Laubscher, president of the Colorado Reined Cowhorse Association, said canceling was the responsible thing to do.
“After talking with the Colorado State Veterinarian, there was a huge increase in the number of infected horses just over the weekend,” Laubscher said. “The aggressiveness of vesicular stomatitis scares us all, and we knew we needed to do the right thing and cancel the show.”
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (AHPIS), vesicular stomatitis (VS) is a viral disease that primarily affects horses and cattle. While it is usually not fatal, there is no specific treatment or cure. The symptoms of VS are similar to those of foot-and-mouth disease, but less severe. In horses, lesions generally appear on the upper surface of the tongue, the lips, around the nostrils and gums.
How the disease spreads is not fully known; insect vectors, mechanical transmission, and movement of animals are all factors. Good sanitation and quarantine practices on affected farms usually contain the infection.
On Aug. 5, Colorado Department of Agriculture State Veterinarian Dr. Keith Roehr said 59 horses have been confirmed as positive and 59 properties have been quarantined. Premises will be quarantined until 21 days after the lesions in the last animal have healed. One of the quarantined ranches is Bill and Janiejill Tointon’s Diamond Double T Ranch, in Longmont, Colo.
“It spread from one side of our property to the other,” Janiejill Tointon said. “The first case was last week and within two days, the virus was over on [the other] side of the property, which is about two acres away.”
Roehr works individually with different event organizers to help them make decisions regarding show cancellations and delays.
“We want to do what is best for the horses coming to that event and what works best with the [event organizers] schedules,” Roehr said. “We will continue to work with our USDA partners to limit this disease and hope that horse owners are diligent in doing the same.”
As for the Mid America Classic, Laubscher said pre-entries were normal, but no one seemed upset the show was canceled. “People seemed relieved. The folks who were thinking about coming were nervous about it,” he said, adding that the association plans to reschedule the show later this year.