Equine Health Update EHU Vol 20 Issue 03 - Page 30

EQUINE | Equine Disease Quarterly of rabies become manifest and therapy is almost invariably futile. Without early treatment, rabies is nearly 100 percent fatal. Rabies is a zoonotic (capable of being transmitted from animals to humans) disease that is distributed nearly worldwide. Attention to the disease is primarily focused on preventive and control strategies. Many countries are considered rabies-free for the purposes of importing dogs into the United States (https://www.cdc.gov/importation/ rabies-free- countries.html). Rabies can be prevented by pre-exposure vaccination of humans and animals. A human diploid cell vaccine and a purified chick embryo vaccine are available for humans (the latter is mainly used outside of the USA) for pre- and post-exposure to rabies, with rabies immune globulin available only for post-exposure treatment in exposed humans. Pre-exposure vaccination involves administration of three doses of vaccine given over a one month period. In unvaccinated humans, post-exposure treatment consists of the administration of five doses of vaccine. Vaccines for multiple species of domestic animals are available to licensed veterinarians. Wildlife vaccines may be available from veterinarians, but are typically used in targeted locations by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife and the United States Department of Agriculture. unsatisfactory for testing. Of the 733 positive animals, only 7.2 percent (53 animals) were from domestic species (i.e. pets and farm animals), and the other 92.8 percent (680 animals) were wildlife. Twenty-five of the positive domestic animals were horses (Table 2), which means that horses accounted for less than 1 percent of the total positive rabies cases in Kentucky over the last 29 years. Rabies-positive horses were primarily located in Central Kentucky (Figure 1). The terrestrial reservoir for rabies in the state is the striped skunk, and skunks positive for rabies virus have been located in all counties where infected horses have resided (Figure 2). As a closing comment, a robust surveillance program involving the UK Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, Breathitt Veterinary Center, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, and USDA is in place to thoroughly monitor rabies in Kentucky. The vast majority of animals testing positive for rabies are wildlife, with little or no exposure to humans, pets and domestic animals. More importantly for horse enthusiasts within the state, the number of horses testing positive for rabies is extremely low. CONTACT: Jacqueline Smith, PhD, jsmit8@uky.edu, (859) 257-7559, University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, Lexington, KY From January 1989 through December 2017, Kentucky tested 32,387 animals for rabies virus. Of this total, 2.3 percent (733 animals) tested positive, 93.1 percent (30,145 animals) tested negative, and 4.6 percent (1509 animals) were unsatisfactory for testing (i.e. the sample was untestable due to maceration, degradation, or insufficient material). Of note: Animals suspected of having rabies should not be euthanized by traumatic insult (e.g. gunshot) to the brain, because trauma frequently renders the sample 30 • Equine Health Update •