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Washington County horse tests positive for rabies

January 30, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

The remains of a horse from a property in Washington County tested positive for rabies, Washington County Health Department spokesman Rod MacRae confirmed Wednesday afternoon.

Larger livestock, when they do acquire rabies, usually do not transmit the virus, MacRae said.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture issued a hold order, similar to a quarantine, to the property, said Sue Dupont, spokesperson for the department.

The hold order, effective today, will prevent any animals from leaving the property and any new animals from going on to the property for six months, Dupont said.

No other animals had shown signs of rabies, she said.

Agriculture officials believe the horse was bitten by, or came into contact with, a rabid wild animal, Dupont said.

Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the central nervous system of mammals. It can be transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected animal or contact with its saliva.

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Most horse-owners do not vaccinate their animals against the rabies virus because, unlike smaller domestic animals such as dogs and cats, horses are not carnivores, said Jeff Semler, an agriculture and natural resources agent for the Maryland Cooperative Extension in Washington County.

Horses wouldn't eat the remains of an infected animal, which is one way a dog may contract the virus, Semler said.

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