Stearns County cow tests positive for rabies

Publish Date

On January 11, a Stearns County livestock producer saw one of his cows toss a skunk into the air. After killing the skunk, the producer noticed several scratches on the cow’s nose. The producer’s veterinarian submitted the skunk for rabies testing and on January 16 the skunk was confirmed positive. The Minnesota Board of Animal Health launched an investigation and discussed options for preventing further spread of the rabies virus with the producer. The options were to either euthanize the unvaccinated cow or officially quarantine her for six months.

The producer chose to officially quarantine the cow with direct oversight from the Board. On February 15, which was 35 days after exposure to the skunk, the producer reported to his veterinarian that the cow was, “down, acting aggressively and was foaming at the mouth.” The cow was euthanized on February 16, submitted for rabies testing and confirmed positive for rabies on February 20. This is the first cattle case in Minnesota for 2020 and the second rabies case in Stearns County to date this year (the first case was the skunk that attacked the cow).

The Board, through its partnership with the Minnesota Department of Health, submitted mammary tissue from the rabid cow and a sample from the farm’s bulk milk tank to the Centers for Disease Control to utilize in rabies research evaluating the potential shedding of virus in milk.

For information on rabies in animals and to view a map of positive cases in Minnesota, visit the Board’s rabies webpage. Call 651-201-6808 if you have questions about rabies exposure to domestic animals. Contact the Minnesota Department of Health at 651-201-5414 if you’re concerned about rabies exposure to people.