Cheyenne horse tests positive for rabies virus |

Cheyenne horse tests positive for rabies virus

A Cheyenne horse has tested positive for rabies, adding to the four cases of skunk rabies found in Laramie County so far in 2018, reported by the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory in Laramie.

Many people associate rabies in domestic animals with dogs and cats and only consider these animals for vaccination, said Myrna Miller, veterinary virologist with the WSVL.

"But in Wyoming, cattle are the most common domestic animal diagnosed with rabies followed by horses, dogs and cats," she said.

The WSLV determined 11 cases of skunk rabies for all of 2017 in Laramie County, said Miller.

Owners should be aware livestock and horses can be infected with rabies, and any animal showing abnormal behavior may be infected, she said.

Vaccinating pets is important to prevent infection should a rabid animal bite them, said Miller. Vaccination for rabies may also be considered for horses and livestock with close contact with humans.

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Miller said the WSVL and Wyoming Livestock Board support free testing for rabies in animals.

"Unfortunately, the only method to detect rabies in animals is by testing of the brain," said Miller. "So it is especially important to protect pets from rabies with vaccination. Anyone who thinks they have been in contact with a rabid animal should contact their health care provider. Wild animals observed to be sick or acting abnormally may be reported to animal control and should not be approached or touched."

Northeastern Wyoming has been the endemic area for rabies in Wyoming since 1988 but in 2011, a new strain of rabies, the south-central skunk variant, spread into Laramie County from northern Colorado.

The WSLV, associated with the University of Wyoming, and the National Wildlife Research Center in Fort Collins identified the strain. The WSLV is tracking that rabies strain to map the spread of the disease.

Miller said the WSLV is testing the Cheyenne case further to determine the rabies strain.

–UW Extension