Rhode Island Equine Rabies: Movement Restrictions, Vaccines in Wake

Some horses are quarantined, and exposed horse owners are required to have prophylactic rabies shots, after a Portsmouth, R.I., horse died from rabies April 22.

According to State Veterinarian Scott Marshall, DVM, this was first horse to die of rabies in Rhode Island.

Marshall said the Department of Environmental Management was notified about the horse on Saturday, April 21. The treating veterinarian attempted to examine the animal on Sunday, but could not approach it due to the horse's aggressive behavior. The horse died Sunday night.

"The horse was acting aggressively, with no obvious neurologic deficits," Marshall said. "The only thing that sounded like neurologic deficits was pretty close to death, and the horse was just incessantly circling."

Tissue samples sent in for laboratory testing confirmed rabies.

Some precautions have been taken at the horse's home farm, the Newport Polo Club.

"The (horses) that were in direct contact with that horse are under quarantine for six months," Marshall said. "There are other horses on the farm that had no contact with them and were properly vaccinated, so we're just boostering those and they're free to move as normal horses would be."

Four people who were exposed to the infected horse will be receiving rabies vaccines.

About the Author

Erin Ryder

Erin Ryder is a former news editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care. She owns a portly gray gelding named Duncan and dabbles in several equestrian disciplines, with an emphasis on dressage.

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