A rabid deer in Minnesota – a reminder for rabies awareness

Wildlife most commonly affected by rabies in different Canadian provinces – CFIA

In early November, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources received reports of a deer that was behaving strangely.  It was later found dead, was taken in for diagnostic testing and was found to have rabies, a deadly virus infection of the brain.

Human rabies is rare in Canada, but world-wide, rabies is an important human disease with some 55,000 reported human deaths each year, nearly all of which come from being bitten by rabid dogs. Once symptoms appear, rabies is almost always fatal in people and in animals.

In Canada, rabies virus is present in certain populations of small wild carnivores: foxes in Ontario, Quebec and the arctic, skunks on the prairies and also in Ontario, raccoons along the US border in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, and bats potentially nation-wide Rabies is not common in big herbivores like deer or cattle, sheep horses, etc. but it does occur; in Canada, for 2012, there have been two cases of rabies in cattle and one in a horse. So, when any animal is behaving strangely, or seems partially paralyzed in some way, or can’t swallow, rabies has to be included on the list of possible causes. So, if you observe wild animals behaving abnormally, contact the appropriate authorities.

Joni Scheftel, Minnesota’s public health veterinarian, when commenting on this case, noted that it’s important to vaccinate livestock and pets against rabies as they can become infected by contact with infected wild animals.

The Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have a number of resources available if you wish to learn more about rabies.

Original news article published in the Austin Daily Herald.

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