Rabies confirmed in Big Horn County; several dogs euthanized

Rabies 2021
Posted at 1:31 PM, Apr 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-11 15:59:23-04

GREAT FALLS — The Montana Department of Livestock announced on Monday, April 11, 2022, that it has 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 U.S. 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,” Dr. Tahnee Szymanski with the Department of Livestock said in a news release.

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. The quarantine is in effect from the date the dog was tested (April 6th) until June 5, 2022.

Animals that are 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.

There were 20 reported cases of rabies in Montana last year; five of them were terrestrial (non-bat). Click here to read more about rabies on the CDC website.