Rabies Alert:
Rabies Positive Cow Confirmed in Rock County

Rabies Positive Cow Confirmed in Rock County

On April 26, 2024, a Rock County cattle producer noticed one of his cows holding her head sideways. The cow lacked energy, seemed off balance, and was struggling to eat and drink. The cow was found dead on April 30. A local veterinarian prepared the cow on-site for testing. The specimen was submitted to the South Dakota State University Diagnostic Laboratory in Brookings, SD. Results were confirmed positive for the rabies virus on May 1.

A skunk had been seen wandering the property about a month before the onset of neurologic signs in the cow. The producer had also smelled skunks around the farm in the past. The Rock County cow marks the fifth positive cattle case in Minnesota within the past 12 months, and one of four involving skunks either seen or smelled on the property.

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health (the Board) conducted an investigation to assess other animal exposures on the farm. The rabid cow left behind a calf that will be quarantined to the farm for 180 days to monitor for signs of rabies. Approximately sixty head of cattle possibly exposed to the skunk  and were with the. The Board recommended that the herd be confined to the farm for a 180-day observation period. Vaccinations for the cattle were also recommended. A vaccinated dog with possible exposure was recommended to be observed on the property for 45 days. Several unvaccinated feral cats frequent the cattle barn. It is possible the cats had exposure to the cow or a wandering skunk. Any cats on the farm that cannot be captured and vaccinated will be trapped and euthanized.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, there was no human risk and post-exposure treatment was not recommended for any people involved. The producer and family did not have contact with the mouth or saliva of the rabid cow. The attending veterinarian wore sleeves and gloves to prevent direct contact when preparing the animal for delivery to the lab.

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 72 hours of exposure.