Revised:  05/22/2008

Memo for October 19, 2007













New Jersey Department of Agriculture



To: Veterinarians, General Public

From: Nancy E. Halpern, DVM, State Veterinarian

Date: October 19, 2007

Re: Sussex County Farm with Confirmed Rabid Cow


A 2-year old cow from a Sussex County farm was confirmed positive for rabies on Friday, October 19, 2007. The cow was sick for approximately 24 hours prior to death. The farm veterinarian, working with the Division of Animal Health, provided samples for testing which resulted in a diagnosis of rabies. The farm has been quarantined for a 6-month observation period by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA). Recommendations were given to vaccinate the remaining animals on the premises and the health department has been notified.


Rabies is transmitted mainly through bite wounds from an infected animal. In some cases, it may be transmitted through fresh open cuts in the skin or onto mucous membranes such as the eyes, mouth or nose from the saliva of a rabid animal. However, attending an event where a rabid animal was present, petting a rabid animal or contact with the blood, urine or feces of a rabid animal does not constitute a high risk for transmission.


Rabies usually begins subtly, with owners first noticing that their animal goes off feed and "doesn't seem right." The animal may become restless and irritable, have "a strange look in its eyes," and make funny-sounding cries and barks, or bawl. As the illness progresses, nervous system impairment becomes more obvious with tremors, difficulty walking, swallowing, and possibly even convulsions and/or paralysis. Affected animals may or may not show signs of aggression and try to bite. In most livestock animals rabies is exhibited in the "dumb" form in contrast to the "aggressive form" normally seen in pigs, dogs and cats. Animals usually start with a slight depression and progress to a variety of neurological symptoms, including but not limited to walking in circles, eating non-edible items, "star gazing," or generally not acting normally. The following symptoms may also be observed in a rabid animal: fever, loss of appetite, excessive irritability, unusual vocalization, a change in behavior, restlessness, jumping at noises, trouble walking, excess salivation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, stupor, or unprovoked aggression.


Concerned individuals may also contact the Division of Animal Health at (609) 292-3965 with questions about rabies exposure in livestock and Dr. Colin Campbell or Dr. Faye Sorhage of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services at (609) 588-3121 about human rabies exposure and the need for rabies post-exposure prophylaxis.






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