A Stevens County goat tested positive for rabies on November 8, 2019. This case is only the third confirmed rabies positive goat in Minnesota in the last 15 years. The other two positives were in Nobles County in 2013 and Morrison County in 2004. Despite the low number of rabies confirmations in goats, veterinarians and producers need to remember goats and other small ruminants are still at risk of contracting the rabies virus.
The 4-year old Boer goat was reported by the owner as, “being off” for two days; it stopped eating and was not interacting normally with the other nine goats in the herd. The goat vocalized excessively, pressed his head against objects, pedaled his legs and intermittently fell onto the ground. A veterinarian examined the goat on the third day and noted a mild fever and confirmed the clinical signs observed by the owner. The veterinarian highlighted an unusual behavior, “dipping his [goat’s] back and pelvis mimicking a female dog urinating.” The veterinarian treated the goat with antibiotic and anti-inflammatory medications and thiamine. According to the owner, the goat exhibited slight improvement on the morning of day five and collapsed and died that afternoon. The veterinarian submitted the deceased goat for rabies testing.
The Board of Animal Health made recommendations for vaccination and observation of remaining animals on the farm and the Minnesota Department of Health recommended post exposure prophylaxis for two people who treated the goat without personal protective equipment. The Board was unable to determine how the goat was infected with rabies.
The Board chose not to issue a quarantine for the remaining goat herd because multiple rabid animals in a herd, and herbivore-to-herbivore transmission of rabies are uncommon. Livestock having frequent contact with humans (i.e. petting zoos, fairs, and other public exhibitions) or those that are at high risk for exposure (i.e. livestock in an area with a high reported incidence of rabies in wildlife and/or feral animals) should be vaccinated against rabies under the direction of a licensed veterinarian. Consult your veterinarian about protecting species for which licensed vaccines are not available. Owners may also want to consider vaccinating high-value livestock.
Any suspect animal should be submitted promptly for rabies testing and producers and veterinarians should take care to don personal protective equipment when examining and treating suspect rabid animals.
Find information on rabies in animals and view a map of positive cases in Minnesota on the Board’s website. If you have questions about suspected or confirmed rabies exposure to domestic animals call 651-201-6808. If you have questions concerning rabies exposure in people, please contact the Minnesota Department of Health at 651-201-5414.
All dogs, cats, ferrets, and horses should be currently vaccinated against the rabies virus. In the event an animal is exposed or potentially exposed, pets should receive a rabies vaccination booster within 96 hours of exposure.