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Rabies case reported in Pope County

A cat in Pope County became the first domestic animal to test positive for rabies this year in Minnesota. The Minnesota Board of Animal Health said the 6-year male cat lived outdoors. His owners observed Jan. 2 that the animal was showing signs o...

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A cat in Pope County became the first domestic animal to test positive for rabies this year in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health said the 6-year male cat lived outdoors. His owners observed Jan. 2 that the animal was showing signs of loss of coordination and difficulty breathing. He was brought indoors and died the following day. Rabies testing was conducted by the North Dakota State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and confirmed the presence of rabies, according to the Board of Animal Health.

The board said in a statement that the cat's owners reported frequently seeing skunks on their property. Four rabies-vaccinated horses and three unvaccinated outdoor cats live on the premises. The Board of Animal Health is investigating and will make recommendations to reduce the risk of rabies developing in these animals.

The Minnesota Department of Health also has advised post-exposure preventive shots for the cat's owners, who both were exposed to the cat shortly before his death.

Thirty-four cases of rabies were reported in Minnesota in 2017, according to the state Board of Animal Health. The majority - 20 - were in bats. Ten were in skunks. There also was one case each last year in a raccoon, a fox, a horse and a cat.

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The disease is reported more frequently during the summer months but rabies is a risk in cold weather as well. Most cases in Minnesota occur among wild animals. Rabies is vaccine-preventable among domestic animals.

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