Litter of puppies exposed to rabid skunk in NW Minnesota

A litter of puppies in northwestern Minnesota is now in quarantine after one of the 7 puppies was recently carried away by a rabid skunk.

According to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, the owner of the puppies heard a commotion in their yard on July 11 and saw of the puppies being carried away by a skunk. Two other puppies were barking at the skunk and the other four had scattered by the time the owner intervened. 

The puppies were 8-weeks-old and were not yet rabies vaccinated. The owner submitted the skunk to the North Dakota State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, which confirmed it as rabies-positive on July 15.

The Board of Animal Health recommended the owner euthanize the puppy that was bitten by the skunk and submit it for rabies testing. Brain tissue samples are required for rabies testing and can only be collected from deceased animals.

Results of the rabies test on the euthanized puppy are pending. The other 6 puppies in the litter must remain quarantined on the property for six months and monitored for signs of rabies. 

State recommends sold puppy be euthanized

During the Board of Animal Health rabies investigation, officials learned one of the puppies had been sold on July 14. The new owners were contacted by the state to discuss the potential rabies exposure. The state recommended the puppy be euthanized and tested for rabies out of an abundance of caution because the puppy was unvaccinated and it’s unknown if it ever had contact with the rabid skunk. Results are pending. 

Rabies symptoms 

Signs of rabies in animals include staggering, walking in circles, paralysis, agitation, lethargy, lameness, behavioral changes, fearfulness, depression, and infected animals attack other animals, people or objects.

The Minnesota Department of Health determined no people were exposed to the skunk and did not advise rabies virus post-exposure treatment. There are also two currently vaccinated adult dogs and some livestock on the property.

Rabies vaccines for pets

All dogs, cats, ferrets, and horses should be currently vaccinated against the rabies virus. In the event an animal is exposed or potentially exposed, pets should receive a rabies vaccination booster within 96 hours of exposure.