Lincoln County alpaca tests positive for rabies

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An alpaca in Lincoln County tested positive for rabies after the owners and their veterinarian suspected it was infected with the virus. On July 27, 2022, the alpaca had stopped eating and could not stand, and the owner notified his veterinarian of the symptoms. The veterinarian examined the alpaca on July 28, suspected rabies infection, and recommended euthanasia. The alpaca was submitted to the South Dakota State University Diagnostic Laboratory, and test results confirmed the animal as rabies positive on July 29.

Minnesota Board of Animal Health records dating back to 1949 indicate this is the first alpaca to test positive for rabies in Minnesota. There are no approved vaccines for use in alpacas, and this animal was not vaccinated against the virus.

The owners have noticed several skunks on the property throughout the summer, with the most recent sighting occurring a week before the alpaca became ill. It is unknown if there was direct contact between the alpaca and a skunk.

The owners did not recall having any contact with the alpaca in the ten days leading up to the onset of symptoms. However, their young child may have fed the animal during that time. There were no bites to people reported. Following their investigation, the Minnesota Department of Health recommended post-exposure treatment for the child, since exposure to saliva could not be ruled out.

Other livestock and pets live on the property. The Minnesota Board of Animal Health investigated to determine the likelihood of exposure to these animals. Any animals known to have had contact with the alpaca were isolated and placed under a quarantine for 180 days. A 180-day observation period was recommended for any livestock with unknown exposure. The owners were instructed to keep their animals on the farm during this time.

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

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

If you have questions concerning rabies exposure in people, please contact the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) at 651-201-5414 or visit the MDH rabies web page.

All dogs, cat, 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 96 hours of exposure.