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Rabies in Goats: What You Need To Know

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Rabies is a serious viral disease that affects many different species, including goats.

The rabies virus causes it and can be transmitted through the saliva of infected animals.

While rabies is more commonly associated with dogs and other mammals, it is important for goat owners to be aware of the risks and take steps to protect their animals.

In this blog post, we will explore the signs and symptoms of rabies in goats, how it is spread, and what you can do to prevent your goats (and yourself) from contracting this deadly disease.

Can Goats Get Rabies? 

Yes, goats can get rabies.

In fact, there have been several recorded cases of rabies in goats in the country.

In 2020, a domestic goat in Yuma County, Colorado, tested positive for the rabies virus and was euthanized as a result.

While in South Carolina, nine people were exposed to rabies after handling a positive goat.

However, it is not a common occurrence.

The CDC reported only nine cases of sheep and goat rabies back in 2020.

Overall, rabies has been reported in 49 of the 50 US states; the only state free from it is the Hawaiian Islands.

But just to clarify: goats have NOT been infected with rabies in all of the reported states.

However, it is always possible wherever rabies is present.

So if you don’t live in Hawaii, you should acquaint yourself with the signs, symptoms, treatment, and prevention of rabies in goats (and any other animals you have).

Remember: knowing could end up saving many lives, including your own.

What Are the Signs of Rabies in Goats? Rabies in goats symptoms: lethargy and change in behavior

One of the most significant signs that something is wrong with a goat is a change in their behavior.

In addition, you may notice a decrease in their ability to walk or move around with ease.

Neurological symptoms are common in goats with illnesses, and they may exhibit signs of stumbling or swaying while walking.

Some goats may even show aggression towards humans, which is unusual for most goat behavior.

This is probably the first sign you’ll notice that indicates rabies.

Lethargy or depression are other good indicators.

They’ll start showing signs of paralysis and be unable to open their mouths.

It’s important to note that goats with rabies don’t typically exhibit the same clinical signs as other animals with rabies.

Excessive drooling and aggression are expected in a dog with rabies.

But goats don’t often present these typical symptoms.

And if they do show it, it could easily be mistaken for too much clover or clover hay.

This lack of typical symptoms can lead to the exposure of other animals and humans to the disease.

As a goat owner, it’s essential to monitor your animals closely.

Seek veterinary attention immediately if you notice any changes in their behavior or movement.

Early intervention can make a significant difference in your goat’s health.

It can also help prevent the spread of illness to other animals or humans.

Can You Save Goats with Rabies? 

Unfortunately, rabies is always fatal.

Once the animal has been exposed to the infection, the goat cannot be saved.

If you know your goat has rabies, you must quarantine it from your other animals immediately.

You should have yourself treated because you’ve been exposed to the infection too.

A series of shots will keep rabies from becoming fatal for you; if left untreated, it can be deadly.

Some people have survived without intervention, but very few; there are fewer than 20 documented cases in the world.

What Causes Rabies?

Rabies is a serious viral infection that targets the nervous system of animals, including humans.

The virus is primarily transmitted through saliva or nervous tissue such as the brain or spinal cord fluid.

Dogs are one of the main carriers of rabies, and their bites pose a significant risk to human health.

The virus cannot survive outside of the host body for long periods.

They typically die when saliva dries up or is exposed to sunlight or ultraviolet light.

Transmission occurs only through close contact with the infected animal’s saliva, which makes the disease less contagious than others.

Rabies can be fatal if left untreated, but there is a vaccine available for both humans and animals.

It’s essential to seek medical attention immediately if you suspect you have been bitten or scratched by an infected animal.

Early intervention with a series of shots can prevent the onset of rabies symptoms.

As former Colorado State Veterinarian Dr. Keith Roehr said:

“Livestock owners need to be aware that rabies exposure can happen on their property,  especially from rabid skunks that gain entry into barns or animal pens.”

Understanding the modes of transmission and prevention of rabies is crucial for pet owners and individuals who work closely with animals.

By taking necessary precautions and seeking timely medical intervention, we can ensure our safety and prevent the spread of this deadly virus.

goat vaccines

How to Prevent Rabies in Goats?

Skunks, raccoons, and mice are the most likely culprits of transmitting rabies.

If you can successfully keep them away from your goats and feed supplies, you will effectively reduce their chances of exposure.

Do not allow cats or dogs to roam on or off of your property.

This can reduce the chances of further exposure too.

There aren’t any official vaccines for goats against rabies, but you can use off-label vaccinations intended for cattle or sheep.

These off-label vaccines are effective and are recommended by livestock veterinarians, especially in areas where rabies is prevalent.

FAQs about Rabies in Goats

1. How is rabies in goats diagnosed?

Rabies in goats is typically diagnosed through laboratory testing of brain tissue after the animal has died.

In rare cases, a veterinarian may be able to perform a biopsy on the animal’s salivary glands or other tissues to test for the virus.

2. How long does it take for rabies symptoms to appear in goats?

The incubation period for rabies in goats can vary.

Typically, symptoms appear within 2-17 weeks after exposure to the virus.

In some cases, it may take several months for symptoms to appear.

3. What should I do if I suspect my goat has rabies?

If you suspect your goat has rabies, it is important to contact your veterinarian immediately.

Do not handle the animal or come into contact with its saliva or other bodily fluids.

If the goat dies, do not handle the body without protective gear and follow proper disposal guidelines.

It is also important to report any suspected cases of rabies to local health authorities.

Rabies in Goats: Final Thoughts 

In conclusion, rabies is a serious disease that can affect goats and poses a risk to many other animals and humans.

It’s important for goat owners to understand the signs and symptoms of the disease, as well as the potential for transmission.

Early intervention is key to preventing the spread of the virus and protecting the health of both animals and humans.

Prevention is also critical in managing the risk of rabies in goats.

Vaccination is available for goats (although not officially,) which can significantly reduce the likelihood of transmission.

Plus, practicing proper animal management techniques, such as keeping animals contained and avoiding contact with wild animals, can reduce the risk of exposure.

Rabies in goats may be rare

But it’s important to remain vigilant and take appropriate steps to protect animal and human health.

By staying informed and taking necessary precautions, we can ensure the safety and well-being of our goats and prevent the spread of this deadly disease.

Interested to learn more about goat health?

Check out our other goat articles below!

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