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Published April 24, 2012, 05:04 PM

Rabies Cases on the Rise in ND This Year

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A mild winter and spring have led to a spike in rabies cases in North Dakota. State officials are urging pet and livestock owners to make sure their animals are vaccinated against the deadly virus.

By: Associated Press,

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A mild winter and spring have led to a spike in rabies cases in North Dakota. State officials are urging pet and livestock owners to make sure their animals are vaccinated against the deadly virus.

There have been 40 confirmed rabies cases so far this year — double the 20 cases in all of 2011, Deputy State Veterinarian Beth Carlson said. The disease has been found in cattle, horses, sheep, cats, bats and skunks this year.

Skunks are the main carrier, however, spreading the disease by biting other animals.

"They were out and about a lot because of the mild weather," Carlson said Tuesday. "And the lack of snow, it was easy for them to get around."

Rabies also tends to be a cyclical disease, with the number of cases rising and falling over the course of several years, Carlson said. But several of this year's cases have been in unvaccinated animals, she said, and officials are encouraging animal owners to make sure rabies vaccinations are up to date.

Vaccines are approved for most domesticated animals, including cats, dogs, ferrets, sheep, horses and cattle.

"This is not just a companion animal issue," Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said. "Farmers and ranchers should consult their veterinarians about vaccinating animals that are especially valuable or frequently handled."

Carlson said the rabies cases are not concentrated in any particular region but are scattered statewide. There have been no reported human cases of rabies in the state, according to the Health Department.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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