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PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 8:34 am 

Joined: Thu Jun 10, 2010 8:42 am
Posts: 1945
Location: Conifer, CO

CSU Veterinarians Recommend Annual Rabies Vaccine for Livestock, Horses

Colorado State University veterinarians are recommending that livestock and horses be vaccinated for rabies due to an increased number of infected skunks in the state.
While bats have spread rabies in Colorado for many years, rabies spread through other wildlife has typically been more common in Eastern states. Over the last several years, more skunks in Colorado have become infected, which has resulted in an increased infection rate and risk of infection to livestock and horses. This is due in part to habitat changes and human movement of wild animals that spread the disease into areas previously uninfected.

CSU veterinarians recommend horses and livestock, particularly pet livestock such as llamas and alpacas, be vaccinated once a year, and also recommend vaccination of commercial production livestock in locations where there is high skunk activity. CSU veterinarians also strongly encourage all companion pet owners to vaccinate their cats and dogs. All warm-blooded animals, including humans, can be infected with rabies.
"While livestock or horses contracting rabies is still uncommon in Colorado, it is extremely important - now more than ever - to work to prevent animals from contracting the disease," said Dr. Bruce Connally, a veterinarian with Colorado State University's equine section. "It's important because, if an animal is exposed to rabies, the symptoms can be difficult to distinguish from other illnesses, and while it is being diagnosed, the animal and people exposed to it are at risk of contracting the disease."

Wounds from a rabid skunk bite may not be visible or easy to detect on livestock or horses, and symptoms of rabies mimic other more common illnesses and could be confused with regular colic or a foot or leg injury. Rabies also can enter the body through cuts or scratches. Rabies can be spread to people through contact with saliva or bodily fluids.

Cases of rabid skunks biting horses or livestock have to date been limited to the area near south Denver and the eastern plains. However, due to the continued spread of the disease in skunks, it is important for anyone in Colorado to vaccinate animals that could be exposed.

While vaccines have been approved for use in horses and cattle, no vaccines are approved for use in camelids, a group of animals which includes alpacas and llamas. However, camelids may still be effectively vaccinated with any vaccine labeled for sheep or cattle. Due to the lack of formal government approval on the vaccine, state veterinary and public health officials may still treat camelids as non-vaccinated animals during an incident. CSU veterinarians recommend that camelid owners consult with their veterinarian before beginning a rabies vaccination program for their animals.
Rabies vaccines do not have to be administered to livestock or horses by a veterinarian, but animals not vaccinated by a veterinarian may be treated differently by officials who respond to a potential rabies case.

"If the vaccinations for cattle, sheep and goats are given by a veterinarian and proper records are kept, then those animals should be considered rabies vaccinated by Public Health officials if there is exposure. Vaccinations can be given by the producer in order to save cost but animals may not be considered rabies vaccinated if exposure occurs," said Dr. Rob Callan, head of the university's livestock veterinary service. "This distinction affects the length of quarantine and how animals are handled after exposure."

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