Animal rabies up in SD for second straight year
PIERRE (AP) -- South Dakota animal rabies cases in 2012 were up for the second straight year, the state Department of Health said Wednesday.
Dr. Lon Kightlinger, the state epidemiologist, said the disease tends to be cyclical, with years of high case numbers followed by years with lower numbers. The state saw 60 animal rabies cases reported in 2012, up from 40 the previous year.
"Rabies is a risk every year in South Dakota and that risk is statewide," Kightlinger said in a statement. "Rabies vaccination is readily available, inexpensive and important to protect your pets and the people around them."
There were rabies detections in 29 South Dakota counties during 2012. The positive tests included 21 domestic animals -- 16 cattle, 3 horses, 2 cats -- as well as 36 skunks and 3 bats.
South Dakota's last human rabies case was reported in 1970.
The 16 rabid cattle in 2012 was the highest number of cases in 15 years for South Dakota and higher than any state in the country. Beef and dairy cattle are usually exposed to rabies through bites from skunks.
Signs of rabies in cattle can be very vague and may start as subtle behavior changes and progress to salivation, abnormal bellowing, persistent heat cycles, and incoordination, said Dr. Russ Daly, state public health veterinarian.
"Rabies vaccine is available for cattle but routine vaccination of cattle herds isn't practical," Daly said. "However, show animals and others that have a lot of human contact should be vaccinated for rabies starting in the spring."