Positive equine case of rabies identified in Polk County

Published 5:42 pm Thursday, August 10, 2017

On August 9 the Polk County Health Department was notified by the NC State Lab of Public Health of a positive rabies report of an Equine in the area of Red Fox Road in Columbus, NC. Any person bitten or exposed to potentially infectious saliva from an equine in this area should contact their healthcare provider or the local health department for a rabies risk assessment. You may contact the Polk County Health Department at 828-894-8271.

Rabies is a fatal yet preventable disease if post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is administered. Rabies is transmitted by the bite of an infected animal or via contamination of open wounds or mucus membranes with potentially infectious material such as saliva.

Prevention of rabies is based on protection of susceptible animals and people and appropriate management of persons and animals exposed to rabies:

  1. Vaccinate pets. In accordance with NC State Law all dogs, cats, and ferrets must be kept currently vaccinated against rabies and must wear a rabies tag. Cats are the most commonly identified domestic animal with rabies. Feral cat colonies should be intensively monitored and their location reported to the local animal control officer.
  2. Control measures for pets exposed to rabies. If pets are exposed to rabies they should receive a booster dose of rabies vaccine if they are currently vaccinated at the time of exposure, within 96 hours of exposure. If pets are not currently vaccinated against rabies when exposed the animals will be euthanized or vaccinated within 96 hours of exposure and placed in four month quarantine in accordance with state law.
  3. Control measures for persons exposed to rabies. Seek medical guidance from your health care provider of the local health department if you believe you have been exposed to rabies.
  4. Livestock including horses (donkeys and other Equus), cattle, sheep, goats, swine, llamas and alpacas – are susceptible to rabies. Although each year generally fewer than 10 livestock test positive to rabies in North Carolina, pasturing these animals provides ample risk for exposure to rabies.
  5. Leave wildlife alone. Raccoons and other wildlife serve as the reservoir for rabies in North Carolina.

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Rabies occurs throughout North Carolina. Anyone that sees an animal demonstrating unusual behavior needs to call the Polk County Animal Control Department at 828- 894-3001.

article submitted by Karen Powell