Harford Horse With Rabies Is Euthanized

August 14, 2009|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

An isolated Harford County farm will remain under quarantine through the end of this month after a horse stabled there tested positive for the rabies virus and was euthanized, officials said.

The county health department will observe all animals at the Churchville farm before lifting the 45-day quarantine on Aug. 31.

The horse, which arrived at the farm in May, manifested striking changes in behavior in mid-July.

On the recommendation of the health department, the animal was taken to the University of Pennsylvania veterinary facility in New Bolton, which diagnosed the rabies infection. Subsequent testing showed the virus most likely came from a rabid raccoon, officials said.

Family members, including one person who had to be located while traveling overseas, and all farm workers were given a series of five inoculations soon after their exposure to the infected animal.

The horse had had no contact with the public. About 25 feral cats were trapped at the farm and euthanized. Other animals, including several family pets, had current vaccinations and were given boosters

"There was never a risk to public safety," said Bill Wiseman, spokesman for the Harford County Health Department. "This incident was a great example of public health work in action and cooperation between local, state and in this case, international authorities."

Livestock cases of rabies are rare in the county, with only seven cases reported since 1985, he said.

The horse brings to 11, including eight raccoons, a skunk and a fox, the number of animals diagnosed with the rabies virus in the county this year.

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