Commissioner Steve Troxler: Consider Rabies Vaccinations for Livestock

The number of rabies cases in livestock is on the rise this year and we haven’t even reached peak season. We have seen seven cases this year compared to three cases in all of 2018. State Veterinarian Dr. Doug Meckes recommends vaccinating livestock for rabies. Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler has more.

  • Most people are familiar with rabies vaccines because of their cats and dogs. But, livestock can also be vaccinated for rabies and our state veterinarian recommends that livestock owners vaccinate their animals this year as it looks to be a higher than average season for rabies cases.
  • Already this year we have seen seven (7) cases of rabies in livestock. That compares to three (3) cases for all of 2018. It looks like this will be a higher than normal year for rabies in livestock.
  • Horses, cattle and goats are naturally curious animals, which unfortunately puts them at risk if a rabid animal makes it through their fence line. They are likely going to check out the newcomer!
  • Rabies is a disease to take seriously, because once an animal contracts it, it is almost always fatal, plus humans are at risk, too.
  • If you are scratched or come into contact with the saliva of an animal you suspect is rabid, you should seek medical attention immediately.
  • Rabies is transmitted primarily in saliva through a bite.
  • Symptoms in livestock can include:
    • appearing depressed
    • having a lack of appetite
    • having difficulty eating, drinking or swallowing
    • profuse salivation
    • blindness
    • head-pressing
    • circling
    • vocalizing
    • fever
    • a limp tail
    • decreased muscle tone and reflexes
    • shifting lameness
    • partial to complete paralysis
  • In horses, rabies can mimic the symptoms of colic.
  • The incubation period for rabies is between two weeks and six months.
  • In addition to vaccinating livestock, other measures you can take to protect yourself and your animals include:
    • Do not feed or attract wildlife to your yard or try to capture wild animals.
    • Call local animal control if you notice a nocturnal animal out during the day and demonstrating strange behavior such as aggressive behavior or no fear of humans.
    • If you hunt, use gloves while skinning animals, particularly when handling nerve tissue or organs.