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The Southwest Nebraska Public Health Department has confirmed the second positive rabies case in Southwest Nebraska for the year, this time in a horse from Chase County.

“Rabies in horses occurs with less frequency than in dogs or cats,” said Melissa Propp, RN, disease surveillance coordinator. “The only way to diagnose rabies is with a laboratory test performed after death. Because the horse’s symptoms may mimic other more common diseases, many people may be exposed to the infected horse while it is infectious. The best method to prevent human exposure is to ensure that horses, livestock and pets are protected against rabies with current vaccinations.”

Rabies—a zoonotic disease that can be spread from animals to humans—is caused by a lyssavirus that affects the neurologic system and salivary glands. It is transmitted via saliva, most commonly through bite wounds from an infected wild animal.

Although clinical signs can appear anytime from two weeks up to one year after exposure, on average they develop four to eight weeks after the exposure. Death usually occurs two to four days after the horse begins to show clinical signs.

1. Never, ever leave your dog in the car;

2. Make sure your dog has unlimited access to fresh water;

3. Make sure your dog has access to shade when outside;

4. Take walks during the cooler hours of the day;

5. When walking, try to stay off of hot surfaces (like asphalt) because it  can burn your dog's paws;

6. If you think it's hot outside, it's even hotter for your pet – make sure your pet has a means of cooling off;

7. Keep your dog free of external parasites (fleas, ticks) and heartworms – consult your veterinarian about the best product for your pet;

8. Consider clipping or shaving dogs with long coats (talk to your veterinarian first to see if it's appropriate for your pet), and apply sunscreen to your dog's skin if she or he has a thin coat.
8 Things You Can Do to Protect Your Dog in the Summer