GASTON COUNTY, N.C. (The Charlotte Observer) - A horse has tested positive for rabies in Gaston County, something experts say is uncommon in the United States.
Gaston County Police say the animal has died and no humans were reported injured.
However, people in surrounding neighborhoods have been warned to be wary of pets exhibiting signs of rabies, including aggressiveness, police said in a news release.
Investigators say the infection was discovered last week by a veterinarian who was treating “a sick horse” in the 300 block of Robert Road in Cherryville. That’s about 30 miles northwest of Charlotte.
“The veterinarian detailed the sick horse was showing signs of rabies,” police officials said. “The horse died and was sent to Griffin Animal Disease Lab Monroe ... The horse specimen tested positive for rabies.”
Other horses at the farm are being given a rabies vaccination and are going “through an observation period with North Carolinas Department of Agriculture,” police said.
Neighbors on Robert Road, Buck Fraley Road and Roy Eaker Road in Cherryville have been alerted to the infection, officials said.
Rabies infections in horses are “uncommon,” accounting for a fraction (30 to 60 cases) of the nearly 7,000 rabies cases reported annually in the United States, according to a University of Kentucky report.
Gaston County officials are investigating to see how the horse may have become infected. It counts as the county’s third rabies case this year, police said.
Rabies is a virus that attacks the nervous system and leads to death, according to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. It is spread “when the saliva, blood, or nervous tissue of an infected animal comes in contact with broken skin or any mucous membrane such as in the eyes, nose or mouth,” the state says.
Symptoms in animals can include aggressiveness and an inclination to bite, as well as excessive drool or “foaming at the mouth,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.