The Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Division of Animal Health has identified an increased number of rabies cases reported in that state this year. As of June 30, 69 cases of rabies have been confirmed in Kansas for 2015.

Rabies—a zoonotic disease that can be spread from animals to humans—is caused by a lyssavirus that affects the neurologic system and salivary glands. Horses are exposed most commonly through the bite of another rabid animal.

Rabies testing is performed by the Kansas State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, which confirmed only 69 positive cases in all of 2014. Of the 69 cases reported this year, 13 of them occurred in domestic animals including nine cattle and four cats. These numbers are expected to continue to rise through the end of the year.

Bill Brown, DVM, Kansas Animal Health Commissioner, urged Kansans to be alert: “Being observant of erratic behavior in wildlife or livestock is important. Pet owners are urged to follow best practices and vaccinate their pets to prevent this devastating disease.”

Rabies is a preventable disease that is always deadly and can infect humans. To prevent the impact of the disease, it is important to vaccinate all animals that have regular human contact, including horses

Commercially available rabies vaccines for horses are safe and extremely effective. According to the American Association of Equine Practitioner’s vaccination guidelines, adult horses should be vaccinated annually, and mares in foal should be vaccinated four to six weeks prepartum or before breeding. Veterinarians should administer an initial series of three vaccin