The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry is encouraging rabies vaccinations for family pets, horses and show animals.
Rabies is a virus that can only infect mammals and is carried by skunks and bats which serve as the reservoir species in Oklahoma. Rabid animals spread rabies to other animals or people primarily through a bite. Direct contact with the saliva or nervous tissue of a rabid animal can also result in exposure to rabies. Although dogs and cats are most commonly thought of as getting infected with rabies, livestock species may also be infected.
In Oklahoma, the disease is actually more common in livestock but may not always be recognized. A sudden change in orientation and aggressive behavior are recognizable symptoms in carnivores like dogs. In horses, cattle, and other livestock species, the disease more typically presents as loss of appetite, limb paralysis, abdominal straining, or difficulty swallowing without the typical dramatic symptom of aggressive, biting behavior. For a complete list of symptoms, go to http://www.oda.state.ok.us/ais/rabiemanagementlivestock.pdf.