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Friday, February 20, 2009


A ProMED-mail post

ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: 19 Feb 2009
Source: DNR on line

Calves test positive for rabies near Linville
A total of 3 calves from a farm near Linville recently tested positive for
rabies, according to the farm's owner. Although no specific animal has been
recognized as the carrier, a raccoon was found on the farm that tested
positive for the disease. The family that lives on the farm has been
treated with a series of rabies shots as a preventive measure. Health
officials described the outbreak as an isolated incident.

"We thought we were treating pneumonia," the farm owner, who spoke on
condition of anonymity, said of the 1st case. "But the calf wasn't getting
better, so we called the vet."

The calf's remains were sent to the Virginia animal testing lab, where it
tested positive for the disease. A diagnosis of rabies can be confirmed
postmortem only through a pathology test on the animal's brain. The
following week, a set of twin calves from the farm also developed signs
consistent with rabies, and tests confirmed rabies in them as well. Health
officials said the public is not in any danger from the limited outbreak.

Rabies on farms rare
According to the Virginia Department of Health's website, 18 cases of
rabies in cattle have been reported in Rockingham and Augusta counties in
the last decade.

Allen Gutshall, district environmental health program manager for the
Virginia Department of Health, said some people vaccinate horses or prize
bulls, but vaccinating an entire herd of livestock is not practical or
cost-effective. If a rabid animal is found among livestock, Gutshall
recommended calling a veterinarian before taking further action.

Sometimes something as simple as separating and observing the animals
exposed to the rabies carrier will determine whether the animals are sick
or if further action needs to be taken.

Getting rabies information
For a complete list of animals diagnosed with rabies in Virginia in the
past decade, log on to .

[byline: Regina Cyzick Harlow]

communicated by:
ProMED-Mail rapporteur Susan Baekeland

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