A case of rabies was recently reported in a bat in Lexington, Kentucky. Among wild animals, the disease is most often reported in skunks and raccoons but is also found in bats and foxes, and usually is transmitted from the saliva of an infected animal into a bite wound.
Every case of rabies presents a death sentence to the infected horse—and a risk of infection for other horses. Infected horses can show common signs including depression, lack of coordination and aggressive behavior, or they might display more obscure signs, such as lameness or colic.
Because the signs of rabies can vary so widely – and the disease is so serious – some experts recommend that horse owners think of rabies first whenever they see unexplained clinical signs in horses.
Disease prevention—through vaccination and good management—is good for the horse, owner and equine veterinarian. IMRAB is a rabies vaccine approved for use in six species of animals, including horses. And it is available in a combination vaccine that also helps protect against Potomac horse fever.
For more information about rabies or other equine diseases, talk with your veterinarian.
- Marteniuk J. Rabies in horses. Michigan State University, College of Veterinary Medicine. Available at http://old.cvm.msu.edu/extension/equine/RabiesinHorses.pdf. Accessed June 11, 2009.
- AAEP Core Vaccination Guidelines. Available at http://www.aaep.org/core_vaccinations.htm. Accessed June 11, 2009.
- Weese, J.S. A review of equine zoonotic diseases: risks in veterinary medicine. AAEP Proceedings 2002;48:362-369
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