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Tonto National Forest restricts equestrian recreation in Goldfield/Bulldog Area, Lower Salt River

PHOENIX, May 29, 2020  Beginning today at 6:00pm, visitors to the Tonto National Forest will not be allowed to ride or take a horse, mule, burro or donkey into the area where the Salt River Horses currently reside (map included at end of release).

On May 21, 2020, Arizona Department of Agriculture (AzDA) reported on its Facebook page that they had, “identified four Salt River horses in the Bulldog and Goldfield areas of the Salt River which have lesions consistent with Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV). While these horses are suspected to have VSV, it has not been confirmed by testing. Out of an abundance of caution, all Salt River Horses in this area are currently under a quarantine.”

In coordination with AzDA, the Tonto National Forest is enacting this closure order to prevent the potential spread of the disease from the Salt River Horses to visitor’s horses. The detailed order can be found on the Tonto National Forest website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/tonto by clicking on the Closure Orders & Restrictions in Effect link.

Additionally, in AzDA’s May 21st Facebook post, they Indicated that “though very unusual, people can be infected with the virus. In these situations, it is usually among those who handle infected animals (for example while inspecting a horse’s mouth and the horse coughs in the person’s face thereby delivering a large dose of virus onto the person’s eyes and lips).”

According to Arizona Department of Health Services, symptoms of VSV in people resemble the flu and may include fever, muscle aches, headache, malaise, enlarged lymph nodes, and conjunctivitis; and treatment is supportive, with most people recovering without complications within four to seven days.  If you become ill with any of these symptoms, you are encouraged to contact your physician.

AzDA recommends that if a horse owner suspects VSV in their animal, to contact a veterinarian and report it to them at seasereporting@azda.gov.

The Closure Order for horses in the Goldfield and Bulldog Areas and Lower Salt River Area will remain in effect until June 29, 2020, or until rescinded, whichever occurs first. Violations of this order is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000.00 for individuals, and $10,000.00 for organizations and/or imprisonment for not more than six (6) months.

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