Officials in Madison County, in Central New York state, announced on their Facebook page that two cows tested positive for rabies in the town of Smithfield.


Cattle most often become infected with rabies when they come in contact with infected raccoons, skunks or foxes. Cattle in barns or other enclosures are at risk of rabies since infected wildlife may enter buildings housing the cattle.

Symptoms of rabies in cattle vary considerably and a veterinarian should examine animals that are acting strangely. The slobbering, aggressive cow is only one way that the disease presents. Initial disease symptoms may be mild with cattle appearing depressed, sleepy, not eating and isolating themselves. As the disease progresses, functions of some body parts may decrease and result in the inability to swallow, weakness in a leg or legs, or a drooping ear or head. Most animals affected with rabies die within a week from the time that signs and symptoms begin.

LISTEN: Rabies: A comprehensive interview with Pamela Wilson

If you see any animal acting strangely, call your local veterinarian, animal control officer or County Health Department for guidance.

Image/Madison County Facebook page
Image/Madison County Facebook page

Rabies is spread through saliva. If farm personnel or others handle an animal with rabies, the Health Department will advise the individual to receive treatment within 10 days to prevent rabies infection. Testing an animal for rabies is important as unnecessary treatment can be avoided if an animal tests

Avoid feral cats and other wildlife, and if you encounter a bat inside your home, be sure to capture the bat. If an adult or animal control officer can safely capture and/or euthanize an animal, contact Madison County Health Department to determine if it should be tested for rabies.

Protect your own pets and your family by ensuring your pet is current with its rabies vaccination. The Health Department will be holding its last rabies clinic for 2016 on December 10th from 9am – 11:30am at Veterans Field at 260 North Main Street in the City of Oneida.

Nine animals (two bats, two foxes, two cows, as well as one raccoon, a feral cat and a skunk), have tested positive for rabies this year in Madison County.