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Published June 16, 2009, 07:04 PM

Dakotas restrict livestock imports from Texas

North Dakota and South Dakota on Tuesday joined the states placing restrictions on livestock imports from Texas after a case of vesicular stomatitis was found in a horse there.

By: Blake Nicholson, Associated Press

BISMARCK — North Dakota and South Dakota on Tuesday joined the states placing restrictions on livestock imports from Texas after a case of vesicular stomatitis was found in a horse there.

The viral disease, believed to be transmitted by insects, is not usually fatal, but state animal boards in the Dakotas said it can be costly for livestock owners. Infected animals suffer from blisterlike lesions, generally refuse to eat or drink and show signs of lameness, resulting in severe weight loss.

“Using (restrictions) to screen animals reduces the chances of this costly disease establishing itself here,” said Dr. Beth Carlson, North Dakota’s deputy state veterinarian.

Health certificate

In both Dakotas, livestock imports from Texas must be accompanied by a health certificate confirming the animal did not come from an area where vesicular stomatitis is present. Kentucky and Louisiana have imposed similar restrictions, according to the Texas Animal Health Commission.

The disease affects horses, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, deer and elk. Before the recent discovery in West Texas’ Starr County, the last confirmed case in the U.S. was in Wyoming in 2006, when 17 horses and 12 cattle were found to have the virus. South Dakota, which neighbors Wyoming, imposed import restrictions that year.

“We have not had a problem with vesicular stomatitis in South Dakota for several decades, but we know from visiting with neighbors in Wyoming that it can just appear,” said Dr. Dustin Oedekoven, South Dakota’s state veterinarian. “The precautions we are taking are just to limit the spread of the disease.”

‘Extremely sporadic’

Dr. Bob Hillman, the state veterinarian for Texas, said in a statement last week cases of the disease are “extremely sporadic.” In 2005, an outbreak involved livestock in nine states, from Arizona to Montana, while the disease infected animals in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas in 1998.

Carlson said North Dakota put import restrictions in place both of those years and did not have a documented case of the disease.

Restrictions usually remain in place for the calendar year.

“Once there’s a hard freeze, the situation usually subsides,” Carlson said.

On the Net:

- Texas Animal Health Commission: www.tahc.state.tx.us/

- N.D. Board of Animal Health: www.agdepartment.com/Programs/Livestock/BOAH/BOAH.html

- S.D. Animal Industry Board: http://aib.sd.gov/

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