A Nobles County calf is the first rabies-positive bovine detected in Minnesota since 2020. The calf began acting strange on April 10 and the owner called their veterinarian after it was straining to defecate. The veterinarian diagnosed a possible intestinal blockage and relieved the pressure surgically. Three days later the calf struggled to stand, exhibited signs of neurologic illness, and died in the evening. The veterinary clinic performed a necropsy and sent samples to the South Dakota State University diagnostic laboratory, which confirmed rabies on April 15.
After receiving the results, the Board of Animal Health contacted the owner and initiated a rabies investigation to determine risk of exposure to other animals and look for a possible source of infection. The calf was housed in a feedlot pen with 28 other calves and there are around a dozen farm cats on the premises. The Board veterinarian recommended vaccination for the calves and to keep them confined and observed for six months to monitor for any signs of rabies. The cats on the premises will be vaccinated and quarantined in a building for six months.
The Minnesota Department of Health interviewed the owner and the responding veterinarian. Post-exposure treatment (PEP) was recommended for the owner, since gloves were not worn when giving medications and contact was made inside the mouth of the calf. The veterinarian wore gloves and glasses during procedures, and did not recall any saliva exposure or open wounds. However, the veterinarian and two others that helped restrain the calf during the surgery opted to receive PEP.
If you have questions about suspected or confirmed rabies exposure to domestic animals call 651-201-6808.
If you have questions concerning rabies exposure in people, please contact the Minnesota Department of Health at 651-201-5414.
All dogs, cats, ferrets, and horses should be currently vaccinated against the rabies virus. In the event an animal is exposed or potentially exposed, pets should receive a rabies vaccination booster within 96 hours of exposure.