Equine Rabies Death in Minnesota

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Minnesota Benton County map

A horse in Benton County, Minnesota, was found to be positive for rabies.

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health reported that on July 24, a horse in Benton County tested positive for rabies. The attending veterinarian initially examined the horse on July 18 and reported that it was recumbent, but able to stand with assistance. Additional clinical signs included facial spasms, low-grade fever and incoordination. The horse was reportedly eating and drinking normally. 

The owner elected to euthanize the horse after it failed to respond to treatment.

The owner of the horse reported smelling a skunk in the area about two months prior to onset of illness. Currently, other animals on the property appear healthy, including two unvaccinated horses, several barn cats and livestock. 

The Minnesota Department of Health advised post-exposure prophylaxis for the owner of the horse, three family members, the attending veterinarian, and a veterinary student who assisted with treatment.

This is the first confirmed positive case of rabies in Minnesota for 2017. 

This case serves as a reminder that rabies should be a differential for any horse presenting with neurologic signs. To date, 14 animals have tested positive throughout the state, including five bats, one cat, one fox, six skunks and this horse.

For information on rabies in animals and to view a map of positive cases in Minnesota visit the Board’s website at this link. Call 651-201-6808 if you have questions about rabies exposure to domestic animals. If you have questions concerning rabies exposure in people, please contact the Minnesota Department of Health at 651-201-5414.

The Board recommends all dogs, cats, ferrets, and horses be currently vaccinated against the rabies virus. 

About EDCC

The Equine Disease Communication Center works to protect horses and the horse industry from the threat of infectious diseases in North America. The communication system is designed to seek and report real time information about disease outbreaks similar to how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) alerts the human population about diseases in people.

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