A feline in Rock County is the first domestic animal to test positive for the rabies virus this year. The cat lived outdoors amongst a colony of approximately two dozen other cats, and was not vaccinated against the rabies virus. The owner reported that the cat had bitten her on the hand. The following day the cat was seen dragging its backend outside and was later brought inside for confinement. After a day of being indoors the owner noticed the cat’s condition worsening with the development of muscle tremors. It was brought to an emergency veterinarian. Two days later the owner brought it to a different veterinarian to be euthanized since its health status was not improving. The cat tested positive for rabies on March 3. Post-exposure prophylaxis was recommended for the owner by the Minnesota Department of Health.
Rabies continues to be a threat in Minnesota. One of the simplest ways to protect ourselves and our families is to stay away from the wildlife vectors that carry the virus and to vaccinate the animals most likely to come into contact with these vectors. Skunks and bats are the wildlife carriers of greatest concern for transmitting the rabies virus to people and domestic animals in Minnesota. By keeping dogs, cats, ferrets, and horses currently vaccinated against rabies, the people that interact with these animals are also protected. When feasible, livestock such as show cattle may also be vaccinated against rabies. Talk to your veterinarian about whether it is necessary or practical to vaccinate livestock.