Pipestone County Calf Tests Positive for Rabies

Publish Date

On Thursday, April 25, 2024, a calf in Pipestone county tested positive for rabies.

On Monday, April 22, 2024, a cattle producer noticed one of his calves behaving strangely. The following day, he relayed symptoms to a local veterinarian who suspected the calf had rabies. The producer administered antibiotics to the calf. The producer wore gloves and avoided contact with the calf’s mouth and saliva. On Wednesday, April 24, the calf was found dead. The carcass was sent for rabies testing at the South Dakota State University Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Lab, where it was confirmed positive for the rabies virus the following day. This calf marks the fourth bovine in the past year and the second bovine to test positive in Pipestone County and the surrounding area.

The producer reported a recent history of skunks on the farm. Due to the high risk and prevalence of skunk rabies in Minnesota, the calf likely contracted the virus from a skunk that frequented the farm. Skunks are attracted to, and are often seen near, bowls of cat food outside. Any food provided outdoors should be kept out of reach of skunks and other wildlife to minimize the likelihood that they will encounter domestic animals.

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health conducted an investigation. The remaining cattle had been in close proximity to the positive calf, but cattle-to-cattle infections are rare. As a result, the Board recommended the cattle be confined to the farm and observed for 180 days. Any changes in mental and/or physical behavior will be reported. The farm was also home to two unvaccinated outdoor cats, which likely had contact with either the infected calf or a skunk on the property. The Board recommended the cats be euthanized or vaccinated as soon as possible and confined to the farm for 180 days. The owner elected to euthanize the cats.

An investigation by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) confirmed that the physical contact between the producer and calf did not warrant any risk for contracting the virus. No one else on the property had contact with the calf during or after onset of symptoms. Post-exposure treatment was not recommended for any people involved.

Find information on rabies in animals and view a map of positive cases in Minnesota on the Board’s website.

If you have questions about suspected or confirmed rabies exposure to domestic animals, call 651-201-6808.

If you have questions concerning rabies exposure in people, please contact the Minnesota Department of Health at 651-201-5414.

All dogs, cats, ferrets, and horses should be currently vaccinated against the rabies virus. In the event an animal is exposed or potentially exposed, pets should receive a rabies vaccination booster within 72 hours of exposure.