VSV Update – Maricopa County

A horse in the west valley which had been the focus of a VSV investigation was released yesterday after results from the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, IA confirmed the horse was negative for VSV.

Currently the outbreak is still confined to areas generally along the Verde River.

HPAI Update – Poultry Shows

Folks, this is a quick update courtesy of Dr. Sue Gale. In case you are an avid poultry fancier, please be aware that several states have implemented bans of varying degrees on poultry shows.

MN, IA, ND, SD, NY, WV, PA and IN have banned all poultry from all state and county fairs through 2015.  Many have also banned poultry from swap meets, flea markets and sales barns.

Also please note the following:

  • OH: has declared that poultry from states affected with HPAI are excluded from county and state fairs.
  • MD: all poultry must be negative on an AI test within 10 days of entering a fair; all waterfowl are banned from fairs this year.
  • MT: recommends that domestic waterfowl skip the show season this year.

Equine Flu in BLM Burros

Thanks to Dr. Anderson of Kingman for alerting us to this matter. He has definitively diagnosed Equine Influenza A in a group of burros near Oatman, AZ. These burros are part of the BLM herd in the Black Mountains area near Oatman.

Please keep this in mind if you are riding in the area along with discussing the situation with your veterinarian.

USDA Animal Disease Information Website

USDA Animal Disease Information

USDA APHIS has an Animal Disease Information page which provides links in 2 categories. The categories are of the animals that fall under their jurisdiction and the diseases of those animals. Here’s a snip from the page to give you a quick example.

USDA Disease Info Page

Each of the respective links takes you to a page with brief information along with links to specifics. Here are a couple of more examples. The first is for a specific disease, in this case VSV.

USDA APHIS VSV PageThe second is for a species group, in this case cattle.

USDA APHIS Cattle Disease Page

There is a wealth of information on these pages. Please help yourself to it.


National VSV Update

USDA released their weekly report on the VSV situation. Unfortunately the disease continues to show up in new places. Texas had its first case confirmed. It won’t be posted on USDA’s website until sometime tomorrow but here’s a snippet from the report:

  • On May 18, 2015, the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa confirmed a finding of VSV infection (New Jersey serotype) on an equine premises in Pecos County, Texas.  This is the 2015 index case of VSV for Texas.
    • (The New Jersey strain is what we’re finding in AZ.)
  • Additional confirmed and suspect VSV premises have been identified in both Arizona and New Mexico in known affected counties.
  • As of May 14, 2015, all VSV-confirmed and suspect premises have been released from quarantine in Utah.

VSV is also continuing to pop up here. We have new cases in the hot spots in the vicinity of the Verde River. We also have indication that one new case likely came about because of sharing a bit. Please be diligent in your sanitation and biosecurity efforts. And kill bugs!

VSV Update – UT Chapter

The last VSV quarantine in Utah has been lifted. Animals which showed lesions were limited to the 5 equine that traveled together in the same trailer from Maricopa County.  There were an additional 9 horses that were exposed to the infected animals.

VS quarantine ended 5-15-2015–final

  • All 5 equine (1 mule, 4 horses) from Arizona developed lesions
  • 3 of 5 infected equine showed varying degrees of colic
  • None of the exposed horses developed symptoms, even though 4 horses remained within 25-50 yards during the entire quarantine period
  • Remaining 5 exposed horses were quarantined at a separate facility

I will specifically note that these left AZ without a current Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI). That carelessness likely (no I can’t say 100% that lesions would have been seen) resulted in a ton of horses and horse owners now having to jump through a lot of extra regulatory hoops. This is especially burdensome for folks who may have intended to travel from UT to Canada. For them the door will be closed for likely another month.

And in case the thought hadn’t crossed your mind, yes this is grounds for a suit for damages against the owner/s and transporter/s of those equine that illegally entered UT.

Defending Against HPAI

HPAI: Highly Pathogenic (or High Pathology) Avian Influenza {pathology from the Greek words for suffering and study – which is exactly how I remember vet school}

Or in other words, very deadly flu in birds.

An outbreak of HPAI in the US began in December 2014 in the Pacific Northwest.  Since then, Avian Flu has spread to 20 states and has infected backyard flocks, commercial turkey and egg farms, as well as raptors and wild waterfowl.  Currently, the outbreak is most active in the Midwestern states of IA, MN, NE, SD and IN.

Here in AZ, we have an active surveillance system in place for detecting Avian Influenza which involves folks with the AZ Dept of Ag, Game & Fish Dept, USDA’s Wildlife Services, County Environmental Health Agencies and several others. Thankfully HPAI virus has not been detected in AZ. HPAI can affect different species of birds including chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, ducks, and geese.


We would like for owners of poultry operations to take preventative measures, and be aware of the warning signs in order to prevent the spread of the virus in case it were to arrive.

Typical signs include sudden deaths in flocks, dull birds, lacking energy, decreased appetites, decreased egg production, or soft shelled eggs. Those may be the earliest indicators but usually rapidly followed by nasal discharge, coughing and sneezing, diarrhea, in-coordination due to weakness/exhaustion. There can be swelling of head, eyelids, combs, wattles and hocks. Often you will also find purplish discoloration of wattles, combs, legs.


Risks of spread include, exposure of poultry to migratory waterfowl, movement of poultry, poultry equipment, and people working with or around birds. Perhaps the single biggest frustration to those attempting to stop this current epidemic is the lack of clear understanding of how spread is occurring.

Infected poultry typically produce vast amounts of virus. Once introduced, the disease can be spread from bird to bird by direct contact, or from droplets sneezed/blown from bird to bird. It can also be spread by manure, equipment, vehicles, egg flats, crates, and people whose clothing or shoes have come in contract with the virus.

The virus can remain active at moderate temperatures for long periods of time, and can survive indefinitely in frozen material. UV light and heat from Mr. Sun are our best friends in killing this virus.


  • Eliminate direct or indirect contact with wild waterfowl and other birds
  • Keep poultry flocks away from any source of water that may have been contaminated by wild birds
  • Permit only essential workers and vehicles to enter the farm
  • Provide clean clothing and disinfection facilities for employees, and any approved visitors to farm
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect equipment and vehicles, including tires and undercarriage, entering and leaving the farm
  • Do not loan or borrow equipment or vehicles from other farms
  • Avoid visiting other poultry farms.  If farm visits are necessary change footwear and clothing before working with your flock
  • Do not bring birds from slaughter channels, especially live-bird markets, back to the farm.


Contact state or federal animal health officials if you notice an increase in illness or deaths in your flock:

  • AZ Dept of Ag/State Vet’s Office: 602.542.4293
  • USDA: 866.536.7593 or 505.761.3160

For more information on keeping your poultry health, go to the Department’s web site  https://agriculture.az.gov/animal-services/avian-influenza

New Equine Biosecurity Document

Canadian officials have released a draft document: (Canadian) “National Farm and Facility Level Biosecurity Standard for the Equine Sector.”

A quick glance tells me this is not for the faint of heart. It weighs in at 67 pages. I can’t comment on the quality of the information since I just saw this. But given the challenging situations lately, I thought it best to pass the news of this resource along.

Does anyone else wonder if some folks get paid by the syllable?

VSV in Central AZ

As I mentioned last week, we have VSV detected now in the vicinity of Camp Verde.

This post is to let folks know we have a 2nd location now under quarantine, in that same general vicinity. Like the previous one, this one is not far off the Verde River.

Now here’s the interesting thing I wanted to pass along. One of these premises (and a horse still there but without signs of disease today) was infected with VSV and placed under quarantine in 2005.