On August 30, a new rabies case was confirmed in Brevard County, Florida. The adult mare had no previous vaccine history and had not been off the premises in over a year, according to the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC).
Clinical signs began on August 26 and the horse was euthanized for humane reasons the same day. This is the first confirmed Rabies case in Brevard County and the second confirmed case in Florida for 2016.
According to the Control of Communicable Diseases Manual, all mammals are susceptible to rabies. Raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, dogs, coyotes and cats are the likely suspects. Other animals like otters and ferrets are also high risk. Mammals like rabbits, squirrels, rodents and opossums are rarely infected.
Rabies infected animals can appear very aggressive, attacking for no reason. Some may act very tame. They may look like they are foaming at the mouth or drooling because they cannot swallow their saliva. Sometimes the animal may stagger (this can also be seen in distemper). Not long after this point they will die. Most animals can transmit rabies days before showing symptoms.
Initially, like in many diseases, the symptoms of rabies in people are non-specific; fever, headache and malaise. This may last several days. At the site of the bite, there may be some pain and discomfort. Symptoms then progress to more severe: confusion, delirium, abnormal behavior and hallucinations. If it gets this far, the disease is nearly 100% fatal.
Although worldwide it is estimated that there are more than 69,000 deaths due to rabies annually,human rabies cases are extremely rare in the United States, which averages less than five human rabies cases annually.
Human rabies is prevented by administration of rabies vaccine and rabies immune globulin.