Thursday, March 11, 2010
A case of Rabies in a horse in Michigan was recently reported. The horse was from Lapeer county (thumb area of Michigan). The horse first started showing symptoms on Feb. 28, and was euthanized 2 days later. Four individuals are now undergoing post-exposure treatment. It is not know how the horse became infected, though both bat and skunk rabies have been detected previously in that county.
This case highlights how real the threat of Rabies is. Any threat of Rabies needs to be take very seriously not only because the infected individual always dies (there is no treatment), but also because it is highly contagious across species. A horse may contract Rabies from a bat and the horse could then subsequently expose humans. This makes Rabies not just an animal health issue. It has immense implications to public health. That is why your dog has to have a current Rabies vaccine to be licensed. Rabies vaccination of horses is not yet required by law. Just because the law does not require it does not mean it is not necessary. The reality is that Rabies vaccines are some of the cheapest and most effective vaccines we have. Given that the disease is always fatal and can be spread to humans, I think it is crazy to not have your horses properly immunized against this devastating disease. This is especially true if your horse has potential exposure to wildlife or bats and/or has exposure to people. What horse in Michigan doesn’t?