A horse from a farm in Cape May County has died after testing positive Tuesday for rabies, officials said.
Bentley, a 20-month-old colt, was being treated at a referral facility and was tested for rabies because he showed neurologic symptoms, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and the Cape May Department of Health said.
Bentley resided at Fox Wood Farms in the Rio Grand section of Middle Township and had been vaccinated. The farms’ other horses, which had all been previously vaccinated, have since received a booster vaccination and will be monitored for 45 days, officials said.
Other animals at the farm are under a 6-month quarantine. Fox Wood Farms posted a message on its Facebook page mourning the death of the horse.
“This should not have happened to a 20 month old,” the farm’s post read, according to Literock969.com. “Bentley was just a baby. The sweetest and kindest baby. He was our baby. This loss is tragic and the hopes and dreams we wanted to share with him are gone too. His death was sudden and we do not know all of the answers yet, but I will keep you all updated on what they find. Bentley was so special and there will never be another like him.”
Though rabies is more commonly found in animals like bats, raccoons, foxes, skunks, cat it can also be transmitted to livestock such as horses.
Rabies is transmitted through a bite from an infected animal and is fatal once clinical signs appears, health officials say. It is shed through the saliva before such signs appear.
“Livestock often develops the ‘dumb’ form of the disease which consists of slight depression, walking in circles, eating non-edible items, ‘star gazing,’ or not acting normally,” the state department of agriculture said.
Anyone who visited Fox Wood Farms from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 is urged to call their primary care physician before going to a hospital emergency room for post-exposure rabies vaccination. The disease can’t be transmitted by petting an exposed animal or through contact with blood, urine or feces, officials said.
“Rabies is a fatal disease in humans and any animal bite or exposure should be taken seriously,” Cape May County heath officer Kevin Thomas said in a statement.