Monday, March 22, 2010

Doc's Diatribe: Rabies Alert

Ok, guys, (and you fillies, too), I know shots probably aren't on your "Happiness is..." list, but please make sure that your owner gets you vaccinated against rabies. Mrs. Owner went to a workshop and the 'horse doctor guy who smells kinda scary' talked about a case of rabies in our area. In fact, the horse lived only about 2 miles from me.
It seems that this horse was a curious and friendly sort. He saw a funny looking black kitty with a white stripe in the pasture and went up to say, "Hi"! The 'horse doctor guy who smells kinda scary' said that the funny kitty was a rabid skunk, and the skunk probably bit the horse. That horse's Mrs. Owner saw the skunk in her yard that day and it is very strange, indeed, to see the black kitties with white stripes during the day, and this one was acting kinda strange. Several months later the horse wasn't feeling so hot. He didn't even want to come in from pasture with his buddies for dinner. And when his Mrs. Owner coaxed him in he was lame. She checked him all over and couldn't find anything that should make his leg sore. The lameness was worse the next day and the day after that he wouldn't let anyone touch his leg. The 'horse doctor guy who smells kinda scary' came on the fourth day and the horse wouldn't even let him get near that side of him, even when the 'horse doctor guy who smells kinda scary' gave him that stuff that makes you feel all woozy and goofy and makes your head feel like it weighs three tons. The horse was afraid. The horse was rearing up, sitting down and beating on his back legs with his front feet. The horse was struggling to stand and ripping the skin off of his knees. The 'horse doctor guy who smells kinda scary' thought it was some sort of neurological problem but wasn't sure of the cause. He took him to his clinic and used strong drugs to calm him and to stop swelling in the brain. The horse got worse. The horse's Mrs. Owner and 'horse doctor guy who smells kinda scary' decided euthanasia was necessary. A few days later the State vet school confirmed that the horse had rabies.
This poor horse went through 4 days of awful pain and and terrible suffering before he died. There is no medicine to fix rabies or stop it from getting worse once it is discovered. There is nothing the "horse doctor guy who smells kinda scary" can do to save you. It can take up to a year (but usually only 2 -4 months) before an animal gets sick from a bite. Since all of the horse's buddies and other four legged predator-type friends were exposed to the sick horse, they had to be quarantined for a long time. They couldn't go on trail rides for 6 months! My Mrs. Owner taught me a new word today. She said that rabies is zoonotic. That means it can pass from animals to humans. So everyone who handled the sick horse had to have shots.

So, like it or not, if you haven't had a rabies shot, have your owner check with the "horse doctor guy who smells kinda scary' where you live to see if he thinks you should have the vaccination. Different areas of our country have different situations with regards to rabid animals. This map shows the location of rabid animals in 2008.

Stay healthy!

My Mrs. Owner put some links to Web sites with more information on the right. Check those out if you want to learn more.


  1. Very good advice Doc! I hope all our equine buddies get vaccinated cuz one quick needle prick isn't nearly as bad as 4 days of dying really scared and in pain.


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