Puppies exposed to rabid skunk in Polk County

Publish Date

On July 11, 2022 the owner of a litter of seven puppies heard a commotion in their yard and discovered one of the puppies being carried away by a skunk. Two littermates were barking at the skunk and the other four had scattered when the owner approached. The puppies were 8-weeks-old and were not yet rabies vaccinated. The owner submitted the skunk to the North Dakota State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, which confirmed it as rabies-positive on July 15.

The Board of Animal Health recommended the owner euthanize and submit the puppy that was bitten by the skunk for rabies testing because of the high likelihood of infection; results are pending. The remainder of the litter must remain quarantined on the property for six months and monitored for signs of rabies. Signs of rabies in animals include staggering, walking in circles, paralysis, agitation, lethargy, lameness, behavioral changes, fearfulness, depression, and infected animals attack other animals, people or objects.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) determined no people were exposed to the skunk and did not advise rabies virus post-exposure treatment. There are also two currently vaccinated adult dogs and some livestock on the property.

During the Board’s rabies investigation animal health officials learned one of the littermates had been sold on July 14. The purchasers were contacted by the Board and MDH to discuss and evaluate potential exposure to the rabies virus. The State recommended the puppy be euthanized and tested for rabies out of an abundance of caution because the puppy was unvaccinated and it’s unknown if it ever had contact with the rabid skunk; results are pending. Brain tissue samples are required for rabies testing and can only be collected from deceased animals.

If you have questions about suspected or confirmed rabies exposure to domestic animals call the Board at 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 96 hours of exposure