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Mower County horse tests positive for rabies

Published 12:37pm Friday, January 11, 2013

A horse in Mower County was the first animal in 2013 to test positive for rabies in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

“This is not particularly out of the ordinary,” said Heather Fowler, CDC/CSTE applied epidemiology fellow with MDH. “Each year in Minnesota, we see about one to two [rabies] positive horses.”

The test results were completed on Jan. 4. Fowler said skunks are the reservoir for rabies in the area, meaning they maintain the disease and continuously infect other animals. Rabies can only be transferred through a bite, Fowler added, so the horse was either bitten by a skunk or another infected animal.

The homeowner, whose location is not being released, called a veterinarian because the horse was acting strange.

“This horse owner noticed abnormal signs in the horse and called a vet,” Fowler said. “The vet opted to euthanize the horse.”

A Minnesota Board of Animal Health veterinarian followed up with the owner and recommended the owner watch for other signs of sickness in the rest of the animals on the property for at least 90 days.

Fowler recommends pet owners vaccinate their animals for rabies and keep them up to date on shots, not only for the animals, but to keep humans safe as well.

In November, the first deer in Minnesota tested positive for rabies in Mower County, as well. Officials said other deer likely are infected but die before people ever see them.

Joni Scheftel, state public health veterinarian, said about 60 to 70 animals test positive for rabies in Minnesota each year, usually being infected by bats or skunks.


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