I’ve had the occasional debate with people about the public health risks of rabies in horses.
On one hand…
- Rabies is rare in horses.
- I’ve never seen a report of rabies transmission from a horse to a person.
On the other hand…
- Rabid horses have attacked (and killed people).
- It doesn’t matter whether the horse gave you rabies or stomped on you. Dead is dead.
A Carroll County, Georgia horse owner learned the risk of rabid horses the hard way, but fortunately doesn’t appear to have been seriously injured. .
One day, the owner was bitten while getting the horse out of the pasture.
The next day, the horse attacked him….and according to the owner, tried to kill him. That night, the horse was in the pasture chewing on its leg and periodically nosing the electric fence.
While rabies is rare, these are some of the hallmarks…aggression and strange behavior. The horse was euthanized and tested positive for rabies. Presumably, the owner is undergoing rabies post-exposure prophylaxis.
Rabies is nothing to play around with. It’s very rare in horses but endemic in wildlife so there’s always a chance for exposure in most regions. Rabies vaccination is a cheap and highly effective way to reduce the risk.