What You Need To Know About Rabies

What is Rabies?

  • Rabies is a virus that only infects mammals. It cannot survive in the environment. It is only transmitted through bites or contact with the saliva or blood of an infected animal to an open wound or abraded skin.  The virus infects nervous tissue and the brain.
  • Rabies is nearly 100% FATAL
  • Rabies is nearly 100% preventable in domestic species with vaccination.

The most common wildlife host of Rabies in Minnesota is: SKUNK

  • Nearly 50% of skunks in Minnesota test POSITIVE for Rabies!

Other wildlife hosts for Rabies in Minnesota are:

  • BATS
  • Raccoons, opossums, large rodents (gophers)

Wildlife that is UNLIKELY to host Rabies:

  • Rabbits, chipmunks, squirrel, small rodents

There are 7 species of bats in Minnesota that all carry their own variant of the Rabies virus.

  • About 3-4% of bats tested in Minnesota, test POSITIVE for Rabies

Most domestic animal Rabies exposure is from: SKUNKS

2003-2010: Domestic Animals- Minnesota Rabies Surveillance Data,

  • 38 (8.07%) of 471 cattle tested positive

Cattle accounted for the greatest number of positives among domestic animals and also had the highest proportion of positive samples among domestic animals

  • 3 (1.6%) of 199 horses tested positive
  • 26 (0.47%) of 5,546 dogs tested positive
  • 31 (0.49%) of 6,350 cats tested positive

Most human Rabies exposure is from: infected domestic animals (pets and livestock) and BATS

All domestic animal and wildlife Rabies testing in Minnesota is done at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in St. Paul, MN

  • Cost for testing is $25.00
  • Test can be completed as quickly as 4 hours if needed for a high risk case (child bitten on the face by unvaccinated cat, for instance)

Take Home Message:  ALWAYS have your pets and livestock vaccinated for Rabies.  If in doubt about a possible exposure,  ALWAYS err on the side of caution…. CALL US, or your small animal veterinarian to ask!