Workshops announced and a reminder to stay away from suspicious skunks

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board of animal health

Animal Bytes

October 2018

Recognize the risk of rabies with skunk encounters


Veterinarians are often approached by clients with questions or concerns after their pets or livestock had an encounter with a wild or stray animal. A common concern is whether or not a domestic animal may have been exposed to the rabies virus. Recognizing potential risk for rabies exposure is essential for stopping rabies spread, and veterinarians have the responsibility to educate their clients about this risk.

Risk is assessed based on many factors including the species of wild animal, the circumstances of interaction, and the rabies vaccination status of the domestic animal involved. A wild animal that has potentially exposed a domestic animal to rabies should be tested whenever possible. Local animal control officers in some communities may assist with capturing a wild animal for rabies testing. Veterinarians are expected to be able to assist with rabies specimen submission and can contact the Department of Health (MDH), Board of Animal Health (BAH) or Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL) with submission procedure questions.

Rabies is found primarily in skunks and bats in Minnesota, and any interaction with these species should be considered higher risk. Almost half of all skunks tested each year are rabies positive. Skunks affected by the rabies virus often exhibit unusual behaviors including activity during daylight hours, aggression toward other animals, fearlessness, and/or unbalanced movements. It is important for veterinarians to obtain an accurate account from clients reporting interactions between skunks and domestic animals to appropriately determine risk.

Veterinarians with questions or concerns when advising clients on rabies risk, especially when a skunk is involved, should contact BAH staff who may conduct an investigation. Regardless of vaccine history, domestic animals (approved for rabies vaccines) should be vaccinated as soon as possible, within 96 hours, after a suspect encounter with a wild or stray animal.

Anyone who has reason to believe an animal is infected with rabies or has been exposed to rabies should call the Minnesota Board of Animal Health (BAH) at 651-201-6808.

Learn about rabies on our annual World Rabies Day website

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Epizootic hemorrhagic disease

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health has confirmed the first cases of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in farmed deer in southeastern Minnesota. EHD is a viral disease affecting members of the deer family, Cervidae, and is widespread across areas of North America and many other parts of the world. It is transmitted by biting midges (Culicoides genus) Many different deer species may be infected with EHD, but white-tailed deer are highly susceptible, and experience high rates of mortality. Occasionally, cases of EHD have been reported in cattle, bison, and other ruminant species.

The affected animals were part of a small white-tailed deer herd in Goodhue County. On September 29, 2018 all of the deer were acting normally and were fed treats in the evening. The following morning, September 30, most of the animals were slow and did not come up to eat, and by evening two of the animals died. On the morning of October 1, most of the remaining animals were extremely lethargic, dull, and recumbent. All but one of the remaining animals died by the evening of October 1. EHD was detected by PCR on tissue samples submitted to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa. As of October 9, 2018, the single surviving buck was showing no signs of illness.

Testing for EHD can be performed on blood or tissue samples (lung, spleen, and lymph node) using a variety of testing methods. Animals that survive infection will carry antibodies against the virus for long periods of time.

Clinical signs of EHD in white-tailed deer can include: fever, anorexia, lethargy, stiffness, respiratory distress, oral ulcers, and severe swelling of the head and neck. Some deer are found dead, with little evidence of clinical signs. Mortality rates can be as high as 90 percent in captive deer herds experiencing an outbreak. The incubation period for the virus is usually 5-10 days. Animals that survive infection can have severe damage to the lining of the gastrointestinal tract and sloughing of the hoof wall. There is no specific treatment or vaccine available in the U.S.

The biting midges that spread the infection travel only short distances, unless carried by the wind. These insects are most active at dawn and dusk, and seldom enter buildings.  Transmission occurs when a biting midge bites an animal with EHD virus circulating in their bloodstream and subsequently transfers the virus by biting an uninfected animal. Culicoides populations are highest at the end of summer and in wet years. Most of these insects are killed with the first hard freeze of the season, but some can overwinter in sheltered areas.

Prevention of EHD in farmed deer herds is difficult due to the Culicoides vector.  Insect control programs and limiting exposure to low-lying, wet areas can help minimize potential exposure. EHD is not known to infect humans.

The Board has notified the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources of the confirmed cases in southeastern Minnesota. The DNR has not reported EHD in the wild deer population in Minnesota. If you observe multiple sick or dead wild deer please contact the DNR at 1-888-646-6367 or

Secure Pork Supply workshops announced

The University of Minnesota Extension's swine team and Dr. Dave Wright are hosting 10 workshops to assist producers with their secure supply plans. Foreign animal diseases like foot and mouth disease (FMD), classical swine fever (CSF) and African Swine Fever (ASF) are a threat to the U.S. pork industry. If those diseases are ever detected in the U.S., government response agencies will limit the movement of animals and animal products to try to control disease spread. This means producers should have a plan in place for a "stop movement" scenario.

The Secure Pork Supply (SPS) plan provides for producers’ continuity of business in the event of an outbreak. Producers can learn how to craft their plans at these workshops, and learn how to monitor their herd for signs of FMD, CSF, and ASF. They will also go home with their own SPS plan in hand, and Minnesota swine producers will be ready with a functional disease response plan when a disease outbreak occurs.

Ten Secure Pork Supply plan workshops are scheduled across Minnesota for November and December:

  • Wednesday, November 7, 1:00—4:00 p.m. - Ag Partners LeSueur Office, 901 N. 4th Street, Le Sueur, MN
  • Thursday, November 8, 9:00 a.m.– 12:00 Noon - MN Pork Board Office,  151 St. Andrews Ct., Ste 810, Mankato, MN
  • Thursday, November 8, 2:00—5:00 p.m. - Rice Co. Fairgrounds 4-H Building, 1900 Fairground Drive #17, Faribault, MN
  • Monday, November 19, 1:00-4:00 p.m. - Lafayette Community Center, 540 7th Street, Lafayette, MN
  • Monday, November 26, 1:00-4:00 p.m. - UM Regional Extension Office, 1527 Prairie Drive, Worthington, MN
  • Tuesday, November 27, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 Noon - MN West Comm. & Tech. College, 1314 North Hiawatha, Mtg. Rm. 127, Pipestone, MN
  • Wednesday, December 5, 1:00-4:00 p.m. - McLeod County Fairgrounds Meeting Room Building, 840 Century Avenue SW, Hutchinson, MN
  • Thursday, December 6, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 Noon - United Farmers Cooperative (UFC) Office, 705 E 4th Street, Winthrop, MN   
  • Thursday, December 13, 1:00-4:00 p.m. - Rushford Community Center, 43038 State Highway 30 West, Rushford Village, MN
  • Friday, December 14, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 Noon - City Center Building, Council Meeting Room, 138 Highway Avenue South, Blooming Prairie, MN

Participants are asked to bring a personal or farm laptop, copies of the farm’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and the site’s national Premises ID Number and 911 address.

Cost for the workshop is $15/person which includes materials and refreshments.

Registration is encouraged and is available online at or by calling 507-389-6714.

If you have questions, please contact Diane DeWitte, UM Extension swine educator, at or 507-384-1745.

Check out this promotional flyer to share the news of these workshops.

Horse eCVI accepted by the BAH

Minnesota has joined more than 20 states in recognizing the Extended Equine Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (EECVI) available from GlobalVetLINK (GVL) in 2019. This option for imported horses is valid for six months and can be submitted to the Board electronically. All previously approved CVIs will still be accepted and horses must be negative to an official test for EIA within 12 months prior to the date of importation. GVL will be hosting a free EECVI Webinar on November 7, 2018 to provide additional information. Visit to register. 

Raw pet food and your pets

Have you have heard a raw pet food diet is healthier for your animal? Unfortunately, raw food diets can make you and your pet sick, and for that reason the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend feeding raw diets to pets.

Germs like Salmonella and Listeria bacteria have been found in raw pet foods, even packaged ones sold in stores. These germs can make your pets sick. Your family also can get sick by handling the raw food or by taking care of your pet.

The CDC has tips to keep your pets healthy on its website.