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.