Factual information about the Salt River Herd:
99% of the Salt River wild horses are healthy, strong, shiny and fat.
However, since VSV (Vesicular Stomatitus Virus) has been confirmed in Arizona, we were worried about some weird looking skin at the coronet band of two older stallions and one older mare. One younger filly also had some strange swelling of the face we have never seen before, but has already recovered.
These are some of the close up pictures we sent to the AZDA. It is suspected that these are cases of the Indiana strain of VSV which is reported to be traveling down the Verde River. The AZDA and Forest Service will come out with a press release about it soon, which we will share immediately.
What is important to know is that this virus is mostly spread through flies or direct contact and is generally not fatal. It can cause lesions and sores on soft tissues like mouths muzzles ears teets sheaths and the coronet band, which is right above the hoof. In very rare cases it can be transmitted to people, in which case it causes flu like symptoms. Here is more information on VSV from the USDA.
We are going to keep a very close eye on this new threat to the Salt River horses and we are designing signs for the forest that will warn people and horse back riders.
Notable is that with the strangles outbreak about 12% of the Salt River population became infected, mostly the very old and very young, and it took a total of 5 months to run it’s course through the entire herd. We are sad for the infected horses, since they seem to be very uncomfortable.
We suspect that when a contagion of any sort comes through an area, it does not escape the wild horse herds. It is only because of our close documentation of this herd, that we notice it, and can warn the public.
Since there is no known treatment or vaccine for VSV, we advise all horse owners in Arizona to practice rigorous fly control, inspect your horses often and wash your hands after touching them. It is strongly advised not to ride in the quarantined area which includes all recreation areas along Bush Hwy.
Please keep in mind that there is a need for caution and knowledge, but no need for panick. We will keep you closely informed of factual and up to date information.
This seems to be the new world we live in, but we will all get through it, both horses and people.
Everyone stay safe. SRWHMG.