Ra­bies:

Even as you keep your horse’s vac­ci­na­tions up to date, it’s wise to re­mem­ber the threat posed by this dread dis­ease.

EQUUS - - Equus - By Chris­tine Barakat

Even as you keep your horse’s vac­ci­na­tions up to date, it’s wise to re­mem­ber the threat posed by this dread dis­ease.

To­day, the threat of ra­bies to Amer­i­can horses may seem re­mote. Vac­ci­na­tion against the dis­ease is ex­tremely ef­fec­tive and af­ford­able. And ra­bies is rare in the United States: Only 25 cases were re­ported among horses and mules in 2014, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion. You need not lie awake at night wor­ry­ing about ra­bies.

But you don’t want to be­come com­pla­cent, ei­ther. Usu­ally trans­mit­ted through the bite of an in­fected an­i­mal, ra­bies is in­vari­ably fa­tal---the virus rav­ages a horse’s ner­vous sys­tem and there is no cure. In fact, ra­bies has the high­est mor­tal­ity rate of any in­fec­tious dis­ease---func­tion­ally 100 per­cent since eu­thana­sia is the only op­tion once signs of ill­ness ap­pear. And reser­voirs of ra­bies virus con­tinue to ex­ist in the wild, caus­ing pe­ri­odic out­breaks of the dis­ease that pose a risk to both wild and do­mes­ti­cated an­i­mals.

All of which means that even as you vac­ci­nate your horse against ra­bies, it’s wise to re­mem­ber the threat the dis­ease poses and re­main vig­i­lant.

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