Horse Dies of Rabies in Colorado

A horse has tested positive for rabies post-mortem in Colorado, according to the Colorado Department of Agriculture. It is the second equine rabies case within a year in the state, after 25 years without a report of a horse developing rabies.

The most recent incident occurred in Arapahoe County, located in the eastern half of the state, just east of Denver. The earlier one, detected last September, also occurred in the eastern portion of Colorado, according to Assistant State Veterinarian Nick Striegel, DVM.

Although it was not known how the horse contracted the disease, Striegel said that it was a skunk variant and, thus, it most likely came from a skunk bite.

"We are seeing an increased incidence of rabies in skunks," Striegel said. "In 2010 so far, we have had 28 rabies cases--25 in skunks, one in a cat, one in a muskrat, and now one in a horse."

The owner's veterinarian diagnosed probable rabies and was able to get the horse to Colorado State University before it died. Rabies was definitively diagnosed upon a post-mortem examination.

Striegel and the Colorado Department of Agriculture are urging horse owners in the state to consult with their veterinarians about vaccinating their horses for rabies. Striegel noted that the American Association of Equine Practitioners includes rabies in its core vaccination guidelines.

"The rabies vaccine protects animals against rabies, and it is very effective," said Striegel. "Rabies is a huge public health risk, and humans can be exposed to it."

In addition, the Colorado Division of Wildlife is also helping residents by recommending ways to discourage skunks from their property.

About the Author

Tracy Gantz

Tracy Gantz is a freelance writer based in Southern California. She is the Southern California correspondent for The Blood-Horse and a regular contributor to Paint Horse Journal, Paint Racing News, and Appaloosa Journal.

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