Horse that participated in Tennessee event found to have rabies

September 12, 2006

ATLANTA (GA) – Persons who attended the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville, Tennessee during August 23 through August 31, 2006 should be aware that a horse stabled on the grounds during the event has been confirmed to have rabies according to public health officials from the Tennessee Department of Health.

The Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Public Health is requesting that any Georgia residents who attended the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration from 8/23 through 8/31 directly call the Tennessee Department of Health Public Information Line at (866) 355-6129 if they possibly had contact with this horse and any of the following occurred during their visit to the Celebration.

If an individual:

• was bitten by a horse;

• had contamination of a fresh open wound with saliva from a horse; or

• had saliva from a horse come in contact with eyes, nose, mouth or other mucous membranes.

"Rabies is transmitted mainly through bite wounds from an infected animal. It may, rarely, be transmitted through fresh open cuts in the skin or onto mucous membranes such as the eyes, mouth or nose from the saliva of a rabid animal," said Dr. Stuart Brown, Director of the Georgia Division of Public Health. "However, attending an event where a rabid animal was present, petting a rabid animal or having contact with the animal's blood, urine, or feces does not constitute a risk of rabies transmission."

The horse originated from Missouri and was a 3-year-old gelding (neutered male horse), buckskin (cream to tan) in color with a black mane and tail. The horse was described as "small," standing approximately 14 hands (or 56 inches) at the withers, which is the area near the base of the mane. During the event, the horse was ridden on the grounds by owners and was stabled in barn number 50 on the Celebration grounds. The horse was not involved in any of the Celebration competitions.

Illness was first noted in the horse on August 28. Over the next few days, the horse developed severe neurological signs, and as a result was euthanized. Approximately 150,000 persons attended the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. The number and the states or countries of residence of persons who may have been exposed to this horse are unknown.

For information, contact:
Michele Hennessey, 404-657-3288

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