Outbreak Alert – Rabies

A case of rabies was recently reported in a Bat in Everett, Washington. Among wild animals, the disease is most often reported in skunks and raccoons but is also found in bats and foxes.1,2 Rabies is usually transmitted from the saliva of an infected animal via a bite wound.1

Every case of rabies presents a death sentence to the infected horse  and a risk of infection for other horses.1 Infected horses may show common signs, including depression, lack of coordination and aggressive behavior,1 or display more obscure signs such as lameness or colic.3

Because the signs of rabies can vary so widely and the disease is so serious  some experts recommend that horse owners think of rabies first whenever they see unexplained clinical signs in horses.3

Disease prevention through vaccination and good management is the best preventive measure for the horse, owner and equine veterinarian.


1 Marteniuk J. Rabies in horses. Michigan State University, College of Veterinary Medicine.
2 AAEP Core Vaccination Guidelines. Available at:
https://aaep.org/horse-owners/owner-guidelines/owner-vaccination-guidelines/owner-core-vaccination-guidelines . Accessed February 27, 2018.
3 Weese JS. A review of equine zoonotic diseases: risks in veterinary medicine. AAEP Proceedings. 2002;48:362-369.

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