Third Rabid Horse Identified in Michigan

The Michigan Department of Agriculture's (MDA) State Veterinarian Dr. Steven Halstead has urged pet and livestock owners to vaccinate their animals against rabies following the state's third rabies case this year.

"It is essential pet and livestock owners take steps to vaccinate against rabies and other diseases because of the possibility human exposure to the disease from interaction with infected horses, cattle, dogs, and cats," Dr. Halstead said. "By working with their veterinarian, owners can take significant steps toward providing a safe and healthy environment for their families and animals."

A quarantine was issued on the Lapeer County horse farm and will be monitored by county animal control officers. Feral cats and any pet cat on the premises showing clinical signs consistent with rabies or with a history of biting someone within the previous 10 days will be tested. Six people, including the owner, trainer, and veterinarian, that may have been exposed to the rabid horse are receiving a series of preventative rabies shots. No other humans or animals are known to have been exposed at this time.

This is the third case of rabies in Michigan thus far in 2010 – a skunk was found to be rabid in St. Clair County and a bat was found to be rabid in Kent County. A standard vaccination program for pets and livestock includes vaccinations required by law, along with vaccinations for diseases commonly found throughout the state. Licensed vaccines are also available for horses, cows, sheep and goats.

"It is important to make sure animals attending fairs or exhibitions, field trials or shows receive additional vaccinations to protect against diseases they may be exposed to in group housing or stressful situations. Owners should consult their private veterinarian to develop an appropriate vaccination program specific for their animals," Halstead said.

State law requires ferrets and dogs be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian. It is also important to make sure that cats kept indoors also be vaccinated as bats frequently get into homes exposing the cats.

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