Officials in Texas have issued an alert through the horse industry in an attempt to reach a group of people who may be part of a public health risk.
Texas Department of State Health Services officials say that people who attended horse shows in Belton and Lufkin last month may have been exposed to a horse that tested positive for rabies.
While risk of transmission to humans appears to be low, DSHS is attempting to contact show attendees about possible exposures. Rabies is a viral illness that is almost always fatal once symptoms develop.
The horse participated in events at the following two shows during its infectious period:
- March 19-21, American Southwest Texas Cutting Horse Association show, Belton
- March 25-27, Lufkin Cutting Horse Association show, Lufkin
Health officials are urging people who believe they have been exposed to the rabid horse to contact their health care providers or DSHS at (512) 458-7455 to determine if preventive treatment is warranted.
The horse was a seven-year-old bay Quarter horse gelding with a faint star on its forehead. During the events, the horse was ridden and fed only by its owners and trainers and was stabled in a barn at each site.
Illness was first noticed in the horse March 31. It died April 4 and tested positive for rabies April 6.
People can be infected with the rabies virus if they are bitten or if the infected animal's saliva gets in an open wound or cut or in the eyes, nose or mouth of a person. A series of post-exposure shots, if given in time, can prevent rabies from developing.