Watch for Rabies in Cattle

Oral rabies vaccine bait ( USDA )

While we think of wild animals as the primary carriers of rabies, domestic livestock including cattle are susceptible to the virus, and because of their more frequent contact with humans, can pose a risk of transmission.

It’s always wise to put rabies on a differential list for cattle. Below are the clinical signs of rabies in cattle that veterinarians and producers need to keep in mind. Make sure to stress to producers that if they suspect rabies in an animal, to call a veterinarian immediately and not wait to “see how it comes out.”

Clinical signs of rabies in cattle
Cattle with “furious” rabies can be dangerous, attacking and pursuing humans and other animals. Cattle with “dumb” or paralytic rabies have minimal behavior changes, but progress into paralysis.

Clinical signs of rabies can be varied in cattle and other animals. Some of the more common clinical signs include:

  • Sudden change in behavior
  • Progressive paralysis
  • Ataxia
  • Abrupt cessation of lactation in dairy animals
  • Hypersensitivity/alertness
  • Abnormal bellowing
  • Paralysis of the throat
  • Drooling
  • Head extension
  • Bloat
  • Choking behavior

Read more about cattle rabies in these articles on BovineVetOnline:

USDA Field Trials Indicate Oral Rabies Vaccine Safe

New PCR Rabies Test Could Improve Treatment Decisions

Rabies Detection Potentially Saves Lives