Published On: Mon, Sep 16th, 2013

New Jersey: A dozen people receive rabies PEP after exposure to infected miniature donkey

At least 12 people have received rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) after being exposed to a rabid miniature donkey on a private farm in Monmouth County, according to Monmouth County health officials.

Miniature Donkeys Image/Video Screen Shot

Miniature Donkeys
Image/Video Screen Shot

The miniature donkey, developed severe encephalitis, was euthanized on September 7, 2013 and found to be infected with the rabies virus.

Health officials say twelve people have begun receiving rabies PEP due to exposure to saliva from the infected animal. Four of the exposed persons were friends of the family, visiting from out-of-state that fed the animal by hand days before it became ill.

Rabies is an acute viral infection that is transmitted to humans or other mammals usually through the saliva from a bite of an infected animal. It is also rarely contracted through breaks in the skin or contactwith mucous membranes. It has been suggested that airborne transmission is possible in caves where there are heavy concentrations of bats.

Related story: Rhode Island Family Brings Rabid Raccoon In Their Home, 18 People Affected

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.

Although rabies is infrequently diagnosed in equine and other livestock, these species are susceptible to infection.

Health officials say that vaccines are also available to protect sheep, cattle and horses against rabies and owner of these livestock animals should strongly consider vaccinating their animals if they are accessible to the public, e.g., petting zoos, riding stables and animals attending agricultural fairs.

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 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. Symptomsthen 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 55,000 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.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. What is LYME DISEASE? ~ EEE & WNV reports from CT, MS, OR, SD, & TN ~ RABIES reports from CTx3, MD, MI, NJ, NM, NC, & CANADA: QUEBEC. | Natural Unseen Hazards Blog says:

    […] New Jersey 09/16/13 Monmouth County: At least a dozen people are being treated for potential exposure to rabies after coming in contact with an infected miniature donkey on a private farm. – See http://www.theglobaldispatch.com/new-jersey-a-dozen-people-receive-rabies-pep-after-exposure-to-infe… […]

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