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Rabies - A Real Threat To Horses and All livestock

Though Rabies is not very common (30-60 horses are diagnosed with Rabies annually in the United States), it is always fatal in our farm animal species.  Last week, the Montana Department of Livestock reported a horse confirmed positive for Rabies in Ravalli county. They also issued a quarantine statement, which  

“ applies to dogs,  cats and ferrets in Ravalli County that are not currently vaccinated for rabies (MCA Title 81, Chapters 2 and 20). The quarantine is in effect from Wednesday, September 8th, to Sunday, October 31st. Animals past-due for a rabies booster, animals that are not 28 days past their first rabies vaccine, and animals that have never been vaccinated are subject to the quarantine.”

The American Association of Equine Practitioners lists the Rabies vaccine as one of its core vaccines, and recommends every horse in the United States be vaccinated, both for the horse and for the public’s health.  Rabies vaccines do legally require a veterinarian to administer, and are labeled for sheep and cattle, as well as anecdotally very effective in goats.

According to the CDC, an animal is considered immunized “28 days after vaccination,” and this protection can help prevent public health concerns as well.  If unvaccinated, you and your horse can contract rabies from a wild animal - and transmission can occur via transmitted “through direct contact (such as through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth) with saliva or brain/nervous system tissue from an infected animal” (CDC).  The most likely culprits are bats, raccoons, bats, and skunks.  Having your horse vaccinated when it comes into contact with a potentially rabid animal essentially negates the risk of transmission, and positively affects the response to a potential exposure.  If your horse/cow/goat is exposed to rabies and unvaccinated, “In the event of an exposure to rabies, unvaccinated livestock should be euthanized immediately. If the animal is not euthanized, it should be kept under close observation for 6 months'' (CDC).  Rabies vaccines are simple and extremely protective - don’t miss the chance to get your pet large animals up to date today.  

Call your local veterinarian, or Burnt Fork Vet Clinic at 407-777-3844, ext. 3 with questions or to schedule an appointment for your large animals to receive their Rabies vaccines and other preventative care. 

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