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Horse tests positive for rabies in Ravalli County

Posted at 12:14 PM, Sep 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-13 14:14:34-04

HELENA — The Montana Department of Livestock (MDOL) reports a horse in Ravalli County recently tested positive for rabies.

MDOL received the confirmation on Sept. 6, noting this marks the 12th case of rabies in the state in 2021, and the fifth in a non-bat species.

Ravalli County has now been placed under a 60-day quarantine which MDOL notes is intended to reduce the risk of further disease spread in the county.

The 60-day county quarantine applies to dogs, cats and ferrets in Ravalli County that are not currently vaccinated for rabies.

The quarantine will remain in effect until Sunday, October 31st.

Animals that are past due for a rabies booster, animals that are not 28 days past their first rabies vaccine, and animals that have never been vaccinated are subject to the quarantine.

As a result of the recent diagnosis, four people are seeking post exposure rabies treatment and 15 horses are being monitored for potential exposure.

Rabies is a fatal viral disease that is spread through the saliva of an infected animal. The virus can infect any mammal, including people. However, it is virtually 100% preventable in domestic animals through the administration of the rabies vaccine.

“While rabies diagnoses involving horses are not common in Montana, this case is a reminder that they can occur, especially in unvaccinated animals”, says Dr. Anna Forseth with the MDOL.

“The rabies vaccine is a core vaccine for horses, as defined by the American Association of Equine Practitioners. Horse owners should work with their veterinarians to ensure their animals are appropriately vaccinated.”

To protect yourself, your family, and pets against rabies MDOL advises:

  • Consider vaccinating horses and high value livestock.
  • Keep all animals up to date on rabies vaccination.
  • Keep garbage in tight containers to avoid attracting animals such as skunks, raccoons, and foxes.
  • Avoid night animals, like raccoons and bats, that are active during the day.
  • Stay away from domestic animals that act aggressive and wild animals that seem unafraid.
  • Contact your local animal control agency if you see an animal behaving suspiciously.
  • Contact your veterinarian if any of your animals are behaving abnormally. Animals can present with a variety of clinical signs, ranging from lethargy to aggression.

If you or someone you know is bitten by an animal, wash the wound immediately with soap and water, consult a doctor right away, and call your local public health department to report the bite.