According to a report from the International Society for Infectious Diseases (ISID), there recently has been a rise in the number of equine rabies cases diagnosed in the Corrientes province of Argentina. Officials believe the horses were infected with the disease via vampire bats.
The extent of the outbreak remains unclear, but officials have announced they will begin vaccinating horses within a six-mile radius of where the initial cases were diagnosed in an attempt to reduce the number of horses that contract the virus. Additionally, ISID reported that the Ministry of Public Health will "take follow-up action for the bat colonies in the area."
Horses that become infected with the rabies virus might show no clinical signs of disease for several days. But during that time they can transmit the disease through saliva to other mammals, including humans. If horses are vaccinated, however, the chance of them getting the disease is very unlikely.
Although rare, when a horse contracts rabies the virus infects the central nervous system, causing brain disease and ultimately death. Clinical signs are extremely varied, from colic to difficulty swallowing, depression with loss of appetite, a low-grade fever, lameness and/or incoordination, other neurologic signs including convulsions, increased sensitivity to being touched, abdominal pain (straining to urinate or defecate), odd behavioral changes, nervousness, irritability, muscle contractions, and death.
TheHorse.com will provide updates on this situation as more information becomes available.
Disclaimer: Seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian before proceeding with any diagnosis, treatment, or therapy.