Thursday, February 24, 2011

BAHA Press Release: Vesicular Stomatitis

●Phone: 822-0094 or 0092 ●Fax: 822-2671 ● website:

Vesicular Stomatitis

Belmopan, 24th February, 2011. The Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) highly suspects that cattle in the Cayo District and pigs in the Stann Creek District are infected with Vesicular Stomatitis, a disease known as “sore mouth” in Belize.

Tissue from vesicles of the infected cattle and pigs were submitted to the regional reference laboratory “Laboratorio de Diagnostico de Enfermedades Vesiculares” (LADIVES) in Panama. BAHA awaits confirmation of Vesicular Stomatitis. Farmers first reported the disease on the 22nd February and there have been three (3) reports from different villages in the Cayo District and one (1) report from the Stann Creek District.

This disease causes vesicles in the mouth, teat and feet of infected animals and primarily affects horses, cattle and pigs but may also affect humans. Affected animals show excessive salivation, mastitis and lameness. Human infection may develop from exposure to infected animals when proper precautions are not taken; the disease in humans is influenza-like with fever, headache and muscular ache; and it rarely results in vesicles. The white tailed deer and various species of small mammals may be infected in the wild.

The disease may be transmitted by mosquitoes, contact with infected animals and movement of people, animals, plants, vehicles and equipment. There is no vaccine available for Vesicular Stomatitis and control is obtained through quarantine of affected farms and movement restrictions. Livestock owners may treat their infected animals with mild antiseptic mouthwashes as this tends to bring comfort to the animal and allows for more rapid recovery.

Vesicular Stomatitis is known to occur in the Americas and is frequently reported throughout Central America. Belize frequently reports the disease at the start of the dry period. When the disease is reported it is usually reported in the Cayo District. The Belize and Stann Creek District have reported the disease during major outbreaks, the last major outbreak having occurred in 1997. In 2004, Belize reported the disease for the first time in the Orange Walk District. This report was due to the improved surveillance implemented by BAHA and not due to the disease occurring for the first time. Farmers tend not to report the disease as it is self-limiting with infected animals showing rapid improvement within 3 days and full recovery by 2 weeks.

Vesicular Stomatitis, though it is a relatively mild disease, is important because it cannot be differentiated in the field from Foot and Mouth Disease. Thus the disease is notifiable in Belize, meaning that anyone who suspects the disease because of excessive salivation, lameness or presence of blisters in mouth, teat or feet must report it immediately. Reports can be submitted to any office of BAHA or the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Further information can be obtained from BAHA offices in Orange Walk, Belize City and Central Farm or with any registered veterinary surgeon.
Attention Editors:
For more detailed information, please contact the Belize Agricultural Health Authority at
501-824-4899 or 501-824-4872; ask for Dr. Miguel Depaz, Technical Director of the Animal Health Department.

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