(Montana Department of Livestock Press Release)
On Thursday, April 7, the Montana Department of Livestock (MDOL) received confirmation of the first case of terrestrial (non-bat) rabies in the state this year.
A Big Horn County puppy was euthanized and tested for rabies due to the presence of neurologic signs. The Montana Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory confirmed rabies in the dog and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed the skunk variant of the rabies virus in the animal.
Rabies is highly preventable in domestic animals through the administration of rabies vaccine. Unfortunately, the dog in this situation was too young to receive the rabies vaccination. Because of the risk of exposure to the puppy, numerous individuals in Big Horn County, including several children, are undergoing post exposure prophylaxis and three dogs have been euthanized.
"Positive rabies cases in dogs are a grim reminder of the need to maintain current on vaccinations of our domestic pets,” says Dr. Tahnee Szymanski with the Department of Livestock.
MDOL has issued a 60 day county-wide quarantine in Big Horn County for dogs, cats and ferrets that are not currently vaccinated for rabies (ARM 32.3.1202). The quarantine is in effect from the date the dog was tested (April 6th), until June 5, 2022. Animals past-due for a rabies vaccine booster, animals that are not 28 days past the date of first vaccine administration, and animals that have never been vaccinated are all subject to the quarantine.
Rabies is a fatal viral disease that can spread through the saliva of an infected animal. Residents should check the rabies vaccination status of all animals and report any contact between a pet and a wild animal, including skunks and bats, to their veterinarian or the MDOL to ensure potential rabies exposure are assessed for risk and managed accordingly.
The mission of the Montana Department of Livestock is to control and eradicate animal diseases, prevent the transmission of animal diseases to humans, and to protect the livestock industry from theft and predatory animals. For more information on the MDOL, visit https://liv.mt.gov/ [liv.mt.gov].