DHS reports 25 rabies cases so far this yearby Lorna Benson, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Rabies in animals appears to be up slightly for the first half of this year.
The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed 25 positive rabies tests so far. Last year there were 79 animal cases for the entire year, with most of those reported after the peak of rabies season, which is typically later in the summer.
Skunks account for more than half of the infected animals through June, said state public health veterinarian Joni Scheftel. If the skunk population is robust, she said, that will often translate into an increase in the amount of rabies cases in the state.
"When a skunk comes down with rabies, it acts rabid and it looks for things to bite," Scheftel said. "It will often bite dogs and horses and cows and other domestic pets. And if they're not vaccinated for rabies, then they come down with rabies and then they expose their owners."
In addition to 13 skunk cases, Scheftel said rabies has been confirmed in eight bats, a dog, a cow, a horse and a goat.
The numbers were "just a tiny bit up over what's usual," she said. "It appears that perhaps we've got rabies circulating in the skunks a little more this year than in the past few years."
Anyone with questions about animal bites can call the DHS at 651-201-5414. Scheftel said the department receives about a dozen rabies-related calls a day in the summer.