Rabies Confirmed in Virginia Miniature Horse

The Tazewell County Health Department received confirmation Dec. 9, 2010 that a Miniature Horse from North Tazewell, Va., tested positive for the rabies virus. This is the eighth confirmed case of animal rabies in Tazewell County this year and the ninth within the Cumberland Plateau Health District, which includes the counties of Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell, and Tazewell.

According to Brian Stanley, environmental health manager of the Cumberland Plateau Health District, a local veterinarian notified the Health Department that the Miniature Horse died late evening on Dec. 3 or early morning on Dec. 4, with possible signs and symptoms of rabies. Possible human and animal contact to the horse is still under investigation.

How and when this horse contracted the rabies virus is unknown. The Health Department advises horse owners to be diligent and observe their animals for any wounds and/or strange behavior. If noted, please have the animal examined by a veterinarian to determine if the animal is showing signs and symptoms of the rabies virus.

"This is an unfortunate situation," noted John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH, FACOEM, health director for the Cumberland Plateau Health District. "This underscores how important it is that we vaccinate our valued animals against the rabies virus. Rabies is a fatal disease. It can be prevented with vaccinations prior to symptoms developing, but once symptoms begin, it cannot be cured."


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