Equine Rabies Case Reality

A Texas veterinarian recalls a real-life equine rabies fatality and what he learned from the case.
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Rabies
Rabies is one of five core equine diseases against which the AAEP recommends all horses should be vaccinated annually. | Photo: Erica Larson/The Horse

Viral respiratory and neurologic diseases are the leading preventable causes of horse deaths. One of the core equine diseases—rabies—has a 100% fatality rate once clinical signs appear, but is easily preventable via vaccination.

“My first equine rabies case happened in a suburban barn—this family had a barn behind their house,” recalled Buff Hildreth, DVM, of Richland, Texas. “Their 2-year-old gelding, who was new to the barn, started out not wanting to eat and being a little depressed.”

She evaluated the horse in the morning and thought the animal might be colicking

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