We always think that the odds are long that mingling with farm animals and show horses at a fair or at the races will have a health risk, but that is exactly the case in Missouri this week. A young Saddlebred exhibited at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia has tested positive for rabies, and while the likelihood is small that he would have bitten anyone or that any people came into contact with his salivia, a public health alert has been issued.
Here are the facts from the State Department of Health:
The horse originated from Missouri and was a 2-year-old gelding (neutered male horse), bay (dark red, with black mane, tail, and legs). The horse was described as "medium" in size, standing about 15 hands (or 60 inches) at the withers, which is the area near the base of the mane. The horse weighed about 900 pounds. During the fair, the horse was shown in the Saddlebred Show and was stabled in Barn C.
Illness was first noted in the horse on August 17. Over the next day and a half, the horse developed severe neurologic signs and died the morning of August 19. The horse subsequently tested positive for rabies. People directly involved in the care of the horse are being contacted and are being assessed for possible rabies exposure and the need for rabies post-exposure treatment.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is requesting that persons who attended the Missouri State Fair between August 7 and August 9 contact their physician if they possibly had contact with this horse and any of the following occurred during their visit to the fair:
If the individual:
* was bitten by a horse;
* had contamination of a fresh open wound with saliva from a horse; or
* had saliva from a horse come in contact with eyes, nose, mouth or other mucous membranes.
Questions pertaining to human health aspects of this situation may be directed to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services at 573-751-6114. Questions pertaining to animal health may be directed to the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Division of Animal Health at 573-751-3377.