September 12, 2006
Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) officials say that people who attended the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville, Tenn, in August may have been exposed to a horse that has tested positive for rabies.
The horse was a 3-year-old buckskin gelding with a black mane and tail, standing about 14 hands (56 inches) at the base of the mane. During the event, the horse was ridden only by its owners and stabled in barn number 50. Illness was first noticed in the horse on Aug. 28.
Health officials are asking that people who attended the celebration between Aug. 23 and Aug. 31 call the Tennessee Department of Health toll-free public information line, 866-355-6129, if they were exposed to the rabid horse through a bite or through saliva from the horse coming in contact with their eyes, nose, mouth, other mucous membranes or a fresh wound.
If Tennessee health authorities determine that a Texas resident was exposed to the rabid horse, the person will be directed to contact a health care provider for preventive treatment.
Rabies is a viral illness that is almost always fatal in humans once symptoms occur. People can be infected with the rabies virus if they are bitten or exposed to the saliva of an animal that has the disease. A series of post-exposure shots, if given in time, can prevent rabies from developing.
Additional information about rabies infection and treatment is available from local city and county health departments or by calling the DSHS Zoonosis Control Branch toll-free, 800-252-8239 and choosing option three.
About 150,000 people attended the Tennessee event.
(News media: for more information contact Tom Sidwa, DVM, Manager, DSHS Zoonosis Control Branch, 512-458-7255 or 800-252-8239; or Emily Palmer, DSHS Assistant Press Officer, 512-458-7400.)