Rabies Found in Parker Co., Texas, Horse

Parker County, Texas, Sheriff’s Animal Control officers have confirmed that an area horse tested positive for rabies last week.

Sheriff’s Animal Control Supervisor Karen Kessler said the horse was recently at a team roping event at the Mineral Wells indoor arena and resided in the 1900 block of North Whitt Cut-Off Road.

Officials said any person who could have come in contact with the horse from March 27 through April 18 is urged to see a physician and contact the sheriff’s office at 817/594-8845.

The horse, an 8-year-old bay gelding, was a contestant with its owner, of Whitt, Texas, at the roping event and was physically unable to perform due to neurologic damage. The horse was diagnosed when the owner sought a veterinarian’s assistance. 

Officials believe the horse could have possibly come in contact with a skunk infected with rabies.

“The skunk population seems to have increased this year, which also increases the possibility of being infected,” Kessler said. “This includes all animals and humans. In order to protect your loved ones and pets, we cannot stress enough the importance of awareness and prevention.”

Animal control officers are advising the public to have all livestock and domestic animals vaccinated for rabies.

Health Alert: Rabies

Rabies—a zoonotic disease that can be spread from animals to humans—is caused by a lyssavirus that affects the neurologic system and salivary glands. Horses are exposed most commonly through the bite of another rabid animal.

In horses rabies' clinical signs are variable and can take up to 12 weeks to appear after the initial infection. Although affected horses are sometimes asymptomatic, an infected horse can show behavioral changes such as drowsiness, depression, fear, or aggression. Once clinical signs appear, there are no treatment options.

Rabies can only be diagnosed postmortem by submitting the horse's head to a local public health laboratory to identify the rabies virus using a test called fluorescence antibody. Thus, ruling out all other potential diseases first is very important in these cases to avoid potentially unnecessary euthanasia.

Kessler added the horse’s owner has been cooperative throughout the investigation. The Parker County Sheriff’s Office and Animal Control Division are working closely with Palo Pinto County officials and the Texas Department of Health.

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