Six people in Georgia are receiving medical treatment after being exposed to a horse determined to have contracted rabies.

North Georgia Health District Public Information Officer Jennifer King said that on June 9 the horse’s owners noticed the animal had stopped eating and began exhibiting signs of illness. The animal’s owners subsequently had the horse examined by a veterinarian. University of Georgia veterinarians later determined the horse had contracted rabies, King said. Under Georgia state medical record disclosure statutes, University of Georgia spokeswoman Kat Gilmore was unable to comment on what became of the horse.

On June 20, Georgia health officials announced that six people who had contact with the horse’s mucus or saliva were receiving post-exposure treatment for rabies, King said. Meanwhile, horses and cattle that were residing in the same pasture with the horse are being vaccinated for rabies and remain under veterinary observation for the next six months, King said.

King said public health officials did not know how the horse became infected with rabies. However, the animal likely contracted the disease after contact with an infected wild animal such as a raccoon, fox, skunk, bat, coyote, or bobcat, she said.

Rabies is caused by a lyssavirus affecting the neurologic system and salivary glands. Clinical signs of rabies are variable and can take up to 12 weeks to appear after the initial infection. Although affected horses are sometimes asymptomatic, an infected horse can show behavioral changes, such as drowsiness, depression, fear, or aggressiveness. Once clinical signs appear, there are no treatment opt