Rabies Alert:
Benton County horse tests positive for rabies virus

A horse in Benton County tested positive for rabies on July 24. The attending veterinarian initially examined the horse on July 18 and reported it was recumbent, but able to stand with assistance. Additional clinical signs included facial spasms, low grade fever and incoordination. The horse was reportedly eating and drinking normally. The owner elected to euthanize the horse after it failed to respond to treatment.

The owner of the horse reported smelling a skunk in the area about two months prior to onset of illness. Currently, other animals on the property appear healthy, including two unvaccinated horses, several barn cats and livestock. The Board of Animal Health is investigating and will make recommendations to the property owner on what to do with the remaining animals.

The Minnesota Department of Health advised post-exposure prophylaxis for the owner of the horse, three family members, the attending veterinarian, and a veterinary student who assisted with treatment.

This is the first horse to test positive for rabies in 2017, and serves as a reminder that Rabies should be a differential for any horse presenting with neurologic signs. To date, 14 animals have tested positive throughout the state including five bats, one cat, one fox, six skunks and this horse.

For information on rabies in animals and to view a map of positive cases in Minnesota visit the Board’s website at this link. Call 651-201-6808 if you have questions about rabies exposure to domestic animals. If you have questions concerning rabies exposure in people, please contact the Minnesota Department of Health at 651-201-5414.

The Board recommends all dogs, cats, ferrets, and horses be currently vaccinated against the rabies virus. In the event an animal is exposed or potentially exposed, pets should be rabies vaccinated within 96 hours of exposure.