World Rabies Day includes livestock, too

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During the fifth annual World Rabies Day, on September 28, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is reminding everyone that rabies in pets is 100% percent preventable through vaccinations. And while vaccination is critical to the prevention and control of rabies in pets, it’s also an important but many times overlooked procedure in horses and cattle.

“Every year, more than 55,000 people around the globe die from rabies, and half of these people are children under the age of 15,” says Chad Clancy, a committee member on the Merial Rabies Symposium, in an AVMA educational video on World Rabies Day. “An even sadder fact is that rabies is an entirely preventable disease.”

Food animal veterinarians and producers can be exposed to rabies when handling livestock that may have come in contact with rabid wildlife, or when examining horses or cattle, for example, with a presumed “hedgeball down the throat” or other malady that may cause them to put their hand or arm inside an animal’s mouth.

I, myself have not always vaccinated  my horses for rabies every year, but  now that I have read of the devastation it can cause with death, euthanasia and/or quarantines, you can bet my new little blue roan Quarter Horse from the Nebraska Sandhills was immunized when I got him last month as we have a myriad of wildlife south of Kansas City, including coyotes, foxes, skunks and bats.

The mission of World Rabies Day is to raise awareness of the impact of human and animal rabies and to emphasize how easy rabies is to prevent.  Around the world, 99% of human cases are caused by bites from infected dogs. These cases are preventable through proper vaccination of pet and feral dogs.

For more information on rabies in animals, including livestock, see these sources:

  • Colorado State University encourages rabies vaccination for pets, horses and livestock, especially because of the increased movement of skunks in the state in the last year.
  • North Dakota State University has tips on preventing rabies in pets and livestock and clinical signs that might indicate rabies here.
  • Rabies can be transmitted through the bite of an animal or more unusually through contct with rabies bait as described in a case from the CDC.  h 
  • For more information about rabies prevention, visit  To view the video, click here


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Ernest Oertli    
Austin, Texas  |  September, 29, 2011 at 12:11 PM

A laudable article with commendable effort to have livestock producers utilize preventive measures to protect their livestock, their families, and themselves. Please note that you can not get rabies from the oral rabies vaccine. It is a recombinant vaccine with only the non-infective aspect of the rabies virus included in it. The individual mentioned in the CDC case became infected with vaccinia - the "carrier" portion of the vaccine.

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