North Carolina’s state veterinarian is warning livestock owners to consider vaccinating their animals after several cases of rabies were reported this year.
“This year we have seen five cases of rabies in livestock,” Dr. Doug Meckes said in a statement Wednesday. “Horses, cattle and goats are naturally curious animals, which puts them at risk for a bite if a rabid animal gets through their fence line.”
The five cases so far equals the number the state normally sees in a full year. The disease, which is almost always fatal once symptoms appear, is typically transmitted in saliva through a bite. Incubation is between two weeks and six months.
Signs of rabies in livestock include lack of appetite, difficulty eating, drinking or swallowing, profuse salivation, blindness, circling, vocalization and fever. Constant yawning, itching or nibbling may also be signs.
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Rabies can be linked to neurological problems such as lack of coordination, decreased muscle tone and reflexes, shifting lameness or paralysis, state officials said. In horses, rabies sometimes mimic the symptoms of colic.
Livestock owners should talk with their veterinarians about local rabies risks and preventive vaccinations, Meckes’ office said.
State officials offer these tips to keep people and animals safe:
▪ Don’t feed or attract wildlife to your yard or try to capture wild animals.
▪ Call animal control if you see a nocturnal animal during the day that shows no fear of humans or is behaving aggressively.
▪ Wear gloves while skinning animals killed in hunting, particularly when handling nerve tissue or organs.
▪ Seek immediate medical attention if you are scratched or come into contract with the saliva of an animal you suspect was rabid.