First rabies case of 2014 confirmed in Madison County

— An unvaccinated cow is the first confirmed animal to be infected with the rabies virus in Madison County. The County Health Department is again warning farmers and owners of livestock to be aware that rabid wildlife is present throughout the Central New York area.

Madison County’s first positive rabies case of 2014 occurred in early February and involved a sick cow in the town of Lebanon. This was the fourth report of a farm animal being infected with rabies since 2012. A cow from the town of Fenner died from the rabies virus in August 2012, a goat from the town of Smithfield tested positive for rabies in October 2013, followed by a cow in the town of Madison in January 2013. Following each incident, the respective animal’s caretakers received rabies post-exposure treatment arranged by the health department.

Farmers and other livestock owners are encouraged to be familiar with the signs of rabies, and to promptly report incidents of livestock exhibiting abnormal behavior or otherwise ill to their veterinarian and the health department.

The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians recommends all horses be vaccinated against rabies, and there are rabies vaccines licensed for cattle, horses and sheep. Consideration should also be given to vaccinating livestock that are particularly valuable as well as any livestock that have frequent contact with humans, such as those who compete at fairs or are exhibited at petting zoos and other public venues.

Vaccination should also be considered for animals housed in structures with roosting bats or frequented by bats or feral cats. Keeping barns secure from outside wildlife is an important measure to safeguard both animals and the people who care for them. Barns, fences and other barriers capable of deterring the entry of sick wildlife should be maintained in good repair, and doors kept closed when possible, especially at night.

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