Vesicular stomatitis virus is an enveloped RNA virus and two distinct serotypes are currently classified, VSV New Jersey virus and VSV Indiana virus, which is further divided into three subtypes: classical (IND-1), Cocal virus (IND-2), and Alagoas virus (IND-3). In the United States, distinct strains of VSV-NJ appear during each epidemic, and individual strains have demonstrated specific host predilections.
VSV is inactivated by sunlight, intense irradiation with ultraviolet light or heat (133 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes), but the virus can survive for long periods at low temperatures. Cattle, horses, and swine are most severely affected by VSV, but the virus can also be found in buffalo, sheep, goats and camelids. White-tailed deer are thought to be a wild host. Humans in direct contact with infected animals or tissues can be infected with VSV; however, disease is mild and self-limiting.
VSV is the most common vesicular disease of livestock in the Americas and was first isolated in 1925, although VSV has been reported since the 1800s. Mexico, Central America and northern South America continue to experience endemic cycles of VSV (VSV-NJ and IND-1), while infections are reported less frequently in northern Mexico and the United States. The last reported incidence of VSV-NJ infection in domestic swine in the United States was in 1968. Naturally occurring VSV-IND infection in swine has never been reported in the United States.
In endemic areas, outbreaks of VSV occur in warmer months and along waterways. VSV is also capable of overwintering in countries such as the United States. Morbidity rates vary widely, but can be high (up to 90%) in some herds. Adult animals are most affected. Death due to VSV is uncommon.
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