Rabies and Star

Star Bars Moore

In the city, look out for the bus.  In the country, what doesn’t sting or bite you will stick you — wasps, mosquitoes, mesquite thorns or worse.  Still, I had rather be out in the country and take my chances.

Rabies in horses is rare, but on the Bryant place, across the fence to the south of us, two horses were put down because one of them had a full-blown case of rabies.  Its companion horse had not displayed rabies symptoms, but Erath County authorities ordered it killed as it had no rabies vaccination documentation.  One was euthanized Thursday, March 24, and the other unfortunate horse this Thursday, March 31.  The first horse exhibited rabies symptoms and the vet took tissue samples that confirmed the disease.  The Bryants are having to take rabies shots since they were in close contact with the horse.

My paint gelding, Star, had been staying in the front pastures away from the Bryant place until last Sunday, March 27.  For two days, Star had infrequent contact with the second horse over the fence that had been killed.  Since rabies can be transmitted via mucous interchange, it is a very serious situation for Star.

Star had been inoculated against rabies in 2009, and last week before the contact with the Bryant horse he had been given his rabies shot for 2011.  Our veterinarian, Dr. Skeet Gibson of Equine Sports Medicine and Surgery, Weatherford, says the 2011 inoculation has not gone into full effect, and the 2009 inoculation begins to diminish in effectiveness after a year-and-a-half.  But since Star had no contact with the rabid horse — only the companion horse that had been killed — the chances were slim that any transmission had taken place.

Nonetheless, the vet said to isolate Star for two weeks and minimize my contact with his muzzle and mucous discharges, look for symptoms (not eating, behavior changes, etc.) and contact my personal physician for advice.

I called our personal physician immediately and neither I nor Brenda will be required to take rabies shots unless Star is rabid.  Star will probably be okay, but isolation and observation is imperative.

And just how did I find out about this whole issue of rabies next door?  My neighbors to the east that have horses called me Thursday, March 31, to inform me of the euthanizing, and they have no land contiguous with the Bryants!  They called to alert me as a fellow horseman.  Neither the Bryants nor the Erath County authorities had contacted me.  Had I been informed last week, I would not have allowed Star to go to the far pasture — Pecan Tree Pasture.  As it is now, we are having to take measures to determine disease contact that may, in the end, be fatal to Star, although I repeat it is doubtful.

Within an hour after the Halls called me and I had visited with the Bryants to find out the facts, I went across the county road to inform a fellow horseman of the situation.  In the country, we must work together.  I choose to do so.


Filed under Flying Hat Ranch, Horses, Star

25 responses to “Rabies and Star

  1. That is so sad that neither the Bryants or the County contacted everyone in the immediate area of the outbreak. Definitely disappointing, especially when the consequences can be so severe. I would think the county at least would have warned residents since other animals in the adjacent area could be infected. Hopefully the neighbors will warn each other and keep a vigil on their stock and pets.

    My best to you and Star through this observation period.

    • Thanks, Annie. I am so surprised about the lack of communication. Brenda got so heated about it that she has called the sheriff’s department about it. I think things will be alright with Star and us.

  2. Hope she’s okay, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for you.

  3. It seems there should be a legal responsibility, but that isn’t often recognized anyway. Life in the country has its downside, but, as you said, still far preferable. I had a dog in the late ’90’s at my farmhouse in Ansel that died and we were concerned it was rabies so had to do the postmortem tests. It was pneumonia, but I remember the anxiety that wanted to grip us as we waited for results. My best to you and Star as you move through this.

    • Well, there should be a legal responsibility, I agree. Sorry about your dog in the ’90s. Anxiety goes up with all this. Not what we need. I think we’ll be okay, but if not, I’m holding a few people liable. Read between the lines.

  4. How disappointing to have such a communication gap. I hope this all ends well.

  5. Randall Tate

    Jack, you and Brenda can be vaccinated for rabies, Larry Holland was a game biologist for the state and I think he got a booster shot every five years. The summer going into the fourth grade I was bit by a rabid dog and had to take 14 shots in the stomach. Watch Star and best of luck.


  6. Keeping my fingers crossed, Jack!

  7. Donnie Reno

    Sorry to hear of the situation with Star. Bobbie and I will be praying all will be okay with not only Star but with you as well.

  8. If I have a communicable disease, I need to inform the people with whom I have come in contact. When I was diagnosed with giardia, Bernalillo County got in touch with me and had me fill out a full page of questions of where I worked, who I had been in contact with, etc.

    I am so sorry that you and Brenda are having to go through this with your remaining horse, who is an important member of the family.

    Keeping you in my thoughts, hoping for the best outcome.


    • Cirrelda, I think the best outcome will occur. So sorry about the giardia — I had to look it up. It’s important to let our friends and neighbors know. I talked with the sheriff’s department yesterday and they “promised” they would do better in the future for farms and ranches out here. Thanks, Cirrelda.

  9. Jack, I certainly wish you and your wife and Star all the best and that nothing more serious for any of you develops from this. It’s very surprising that there was not any more communication than there was!

    • Thank you, Montucky. I’m pretty sure we’ll be okay and Star, too, but I’ll be glad when the two weeks pass. I was really surprised about the lack of communication. The sheriff said they would do better, but that doesn’t help us now.

  10. Erin R

    I am so sorry for poor Star having to be locked up for two weeks. I that hope he will be fine. Try not to worry too much, Jack.

  11. Kittie Howard

    It frosts me that neither the Bryants nor the County informed you. Rabies is extremely serious. Both shirked a moral responsibility. Counties get hung up with paperwork (it’s a stretch here, I know) but neighbors should always do what is right. You and Brenda and Star were put in harm’s way by people better suited to another planet (one without habitation!) Sending positive wishes as you traverse this situation.

    • Yes, I’m so darned mad I could spit. This is such a serious business that the school bells should have been rung.

      Star is doing just fine. I see no complications. He’s just mad he can’t get out of the corral and go visiting.

  12. I missed this post Jack. Rabies can be frightening, it is potentially fatal. I was bitten by a rabid animal in 2003. It was a harrowing experience. In the end the rabies treatment wasn’t bad, but it is something I would choose to avoid in the future at all costs by limiting my exposure to the disease.

    I am hopeful that Star will be OK. As you state the contact should have been nonexistent to minimal. Only time will tell. I will send positive thoughts your way in hopes it will help. If nothing else you will know that you have my long distant support.

    I find it a little strange that you were not notified immediately about what was going on. Neighbors need to be neighbors. Enough said.

    Here’s to a healthy and vibrant Star!

    • I knew you had taken rabies shots when you were exposed to the raccoon. I had read that post of yours.

      Star is doing just fine. One more week of isolation. He is eating and drinking runoff water and complaining that he can’t get out of the corral.

  13. Glad to hear this piece of good news!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s