Epizootic Vesicular Stomatitis in Colorado, 1982: Infection in Occupational Risk Groups

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  • * Department of Microbiology and Environmental Health, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523
  • ** Division of Vector-Borne Viral Diseases, Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control, Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, P.O. Box 2087, Fort Collins, Colorado 80522-2087
  • Colorado Department of Health, 4210 East 11th Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80220

In 1982–1983, an epizootic of vesicular stomatitis occurred in the western United States. Veterinarians, research workers, and regulatory personnel who were exposed to vesicular stomatitis virus were examined for patterns of human infection and prevalence of vesicular stomatitis New Jersey serotype neutralizing antibody. Insight into the mechanism of transmission was sought by comparing activities of antibody-positive and antibody-negative persons. A statistically significant risk factor was a history of infected animals sneezing in the face of serosurvey participants. Elevated odds ratios were also calculated for those who usually examined the oral cavity of affected animals, had open wounds on hands or arms, and had exposure to saliva through the eye or skin. Relatively intimate direct contact was required; a higher risk was associated with examining horses than cattle. Neutralizing antibody prevalence was significantly higher among exposed persons with illness (23%) than in exposed persons without a history of clinical illness (7%). Overall, however, infectivity of VSNJ for humans during the epizootic was low.