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Vesicular Stomatitis Virus Disease Send Print

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Created: Tuesday, 09 January 2007
Last update: Thursday, 29 September 2011
Author - Secondary
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FIG. 1.  Common house flies, a possible vector for vesicular stomatitis virus.

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FIG. 2.  Cow salivating due to oral lesions of vesicular stomatitis virus.

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FIG. 3.  Vesicular stomatitis virus vesicles on the nostrils and lips of a horse.

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FIG. 4.  Cow with vesicular stomatitis virus vesicles on the teats.

Vesicular stomatitis viruses (VSV) are in the family Rhabdoviridae and the genus Vesiculovirus and are enveloped viruses with bullet-shaped capsids. It is 70 nm in diameter and 180 nm in length containing a linear, negative-sense RNA nonsegmented genome of approximately 15 kilobases (1, 4). The disease has only been found in North and South America and affects horses, cattle, pigs, and goats, but can also be zoonotic and infect humans. Pictures shown here were taken in Colorado in 1982. The method of transmission is not fully understood, but direct contact with infected animals is known to play a role. Vectors such as the common house fly (Fig. 1) and biting flies, as well as other insects, are thought to play a role in transmission (2).

Within 2 to 8 days following exposure, the animal will be begin to salivate excessively (Fig. 2), and possibly have a low fever, followed by the appearance of the vesicles. In horses the vesicles tend to be on the tongue (although they can appear on lips and nostrils as shown in Fig. 3) and in cattle they tend to be on the lips, hard palate, nostrils, and teats of the udders (Fig. 4); in pigs they tend to be on the hooves. Animals usually recover in 2 weeks and death from VSV is very rare. The disease is of concern because the lesions resemble those in foot and mouth disease which was eradicated from the U.S. in 1929. The diseases can only be distinguished by serologic tests (3). Also in horses, VSV causes a debilitating lameness (2). A vaccine is available but not often used (2). In humans the disease resembles influenza, with fever, malaise, body aches, and headache; an oral rash may also develop, but most human infections are asymptomatic.

Diagnosis is usually based on the presence of antibody to the virus as determined by serum neutralization assay or the complement-fixation test (3).  

See also:
Vesicular Stomatitis Virus  

1.  de Mattos, C. A., C. C. de Mattos, and C. E. Rupprecht.  2001. Rhabdoviruses, p. 1245–1278. In D. M. Knipe and P. M. Howley (ed.), Fields virology. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, Philadelphia, Pa.

2.  Fenner, F., P. A. Bachmann, E. P. J. Gibbs, F. A. Murphy, M. J. Studdert, and D. O. White. 1987. Veterinary virology, p. 541–544. Academic Press, Inc., Orlando, Fla. 
3.  Roberts, W. A., and G. A. Carter. 1976.  Essentials of veterinary virology, p. 64–65. Michigan State University Press, East Lansing, Mich.

4.  Rose J. K., and M. A. Whitt. 2001. Rhabdoviridae: the viruses and their replication, p. 1221–1244. In D. M. Knipe and P. M. Howley (ed.), Fields virology. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, Philadelphia, Pa. 

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