Rabies reports from Texas and Virginia.


Texas 12/11/10 lubbockonline.com:  by Alyssa Dizon – The Texas Department of State Health Services reported Crosby County had its first documented rabies case in 47 years in a horse.  This was the third horse rabies case this year and the 30th horse case in the 41 counties in DSHS’ Region 1 to date, said Karen McDonald, DSHS Zoonosis control specialist. Like the horse in Crosby County, the other horse rabies cases were related to a strain of rabies originating from a skunk.  In his 32 years as a veterinarian, Kody Kothmann of Caprock Veterinary Clinic in Lubbock said he had never encountered a horse with rabies.

The horse was a white 3-year-old Morgan mare named Pearl that belonged to Stephanie Jones of Lubbock. Pearl and another horse were kept on a ranch south of Lorenzo, but on Nov. 15, Stephanie noticed her horse was acting strangely, said her father, John.  Pearl was not eating or drinking and was starting to lose weight, so John contacted Kothmann.  When Kothmann saw Pearl he suspected rabies, he said, even though there was no visible bite on the horse’s body.  “The horse was losing 40 to 50 pounds a day,” Kothmann said. “On the three days I observed the horse, it was deteriorating very quickly.”  Pearl pressed her head against the wall and had flared nostrils, hyper-excitability, twitching of both eyes and an inability to swallow — that was the sign she had facial nerve paralysis and most likely rabies, he said.  By Nov. 18, Pearl could no longer stand, so she was euthanized. Her body was buried, and her brain was sent to the DSHS laboratory in Austin for testing. The following week, DSHS confirmed Pearl’s ailment had been rabies.

Virginia 12/11/10 bdtonline.com: by Kate Coil – The Tazewell County Health Department has received confirmation of the area’s eighth rabid animal this year after a miniature horse from the Goose Creek Estates area of North Tazewell tested positive for the disease Thursday. According to Brian Stanley, environmental health manager of the Cumberland Plateau Health District, a local veterinarian notified the Health Department that the miniature horse died late in the evening on Friday, Dec. 3 or early morning on Saturday, Dec. 4, with possible signs and symptoms of rabies infection.  The health department is currently investigating any incidents of humans or other animals exposed to the virus as well as how the horse contacted the virus in the first place.  Anyone living in the area is asked to observe their pets and livestock for any wounds or strange behavior. If wounds or strange behavior is observed, the animal needs to be examined by a veterinarian immediately to determine if the animal is exhibiting signs of the rabies virus.

Robert Parker, a public information officer with the Virginia Department of Health, said he was not familiar with any previous cases of rabies in miniature horses but that rabies within livestock is common.  “Rabies can occur in any mammal,” Parker said. “It’s most common in foxes, raccoons and skunks. I’ve never heard of a case in a miniature horse before, but that’s because miniature horses are less common. Rabies, however is not.”  Parker said there are rabies vaccinations available for livestock, though many livestock owners do not get them.  “There is a vaccine available for livestock, though it’s not required by law, as it is for cats, dogs and ferrets,” Parker said. “Owners of livestock should consider getting these vaccinations for their animals. We have been trying to do some outreach with the agriculture community to let them know what is available to them because rabies prevention is less known about in that community.”  According to Parker, livestock that has been infected with rabies will behave in the same was as household pets or wildlife that have been infected. 

“Any mammal that gets rabies has the same symptoms of staggering, delirium, hallucinations, high fever and loss of balance,” Parker said. “Foaming of the mouth or salivating will not occur until the disease is quite advanced.”  Parker said the last confirmed livestock rabies case in the Cumberland Plateau Health District was a horse in Russell County in 2003. In 2010, the state of Virginia had nine confirmed cases of rabies in livestock while there were 10 confirmed cases statewide in 2009.


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