Western South Dakota's Only Ranch Station
A gloved hand holds a bat
Just over the horizon, beyond the border with Mexico, a potential new threat of rabies looms for cattle, horses and other animals. The vampire bat’s home-range appears to be creeping northward for various reasons, including deforestation and other environmental changes.

Cow Tests For Rabies, Quarantine In Place For Animals

HELENA, MT–  The Montana Department of Livestock (MDOL) has received confirmation of a rabid cow in Powder River County. The rabies-infected cow was tested after displaying neurological symptoms.  Three people were exposed to the cow while administering treatment. The last documented cases of terrestrial (non-bat) rabies in Powder River County was in June 2022.

This animal is the first confirmed case of rabies in Montana in 2024 and serves as an important reminder to keep pets currently vaccinated for rabies. Montana sees one to two dozen cases of rabies per year, primarily in bats and skunks. Vaccination is a critical tool to prevent spillover to our domestic animal populations and minimize the risk of human exposure.

“Rabies vaccines not only protect the health of an individual animal, they also protect the health of the animal owners and other pets from this fatal disease,” says Dr. Tahnee Szymanski, Montana State Veterinarian. “Vaccination is a low-cost, safe, and effective tool that we strongly encourage pet owners to pursue.”

In response to the confirmation of rabies in Powder River County, MDOL has issued a 60 day county-wide quarantine for Powder River County. Non-vaccinated or not currently vaccinated dogs, cats, and ferrets in Powder River County are quarantined within the county for a period of not less than sixty (60) days from the date of the last known terrestrial rabies (MCA Title 81, Chapters 2 and 20).

Any dog, cat or ferret in that has been properly immunized against rabies for the first time, may be released from the quarantine area after a period of twenty-eight (28) days from the date of vaccination.

Any dog, cat, or ferret that is past-due on the rabies vaccine, may be immediately released from the quarantine area as soon as receiving a booster vaccine.

Quarantine release is scheduled for Tuesday, June 26, 2024. Additional cases of terrestrial (non-bat) rabies cases within the county may extend the duration of the quarantine. Written notification from MDOL will be provided when the quarantine is released.

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Local health authorities have also been monitoring workers from farms with infected herds for symptoms — either through regular phone calls with farm supervisors or automated text messages that ask if they’ve been experiencing conjunctivitis or any flu-like symptoms, even mild ones.(Photo: shironosov/iStock)

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