Cows test positive for rabies

A rabid raccoon at a Charlotte dairy farm triggered a rabies scare early this week.

According to state officials, who have not identified the farm by name, a chain of events started in late January when a barn dog killed the infected coon. Then, farm employees noticed last week that two cows were behaving oddly - the workers put two and two together and alerted the farm owner. State officials were called in and learned about the cows and the earlier coon incident.

Things occurred rapidly after that: The first cow died on Monday; both were tested and the results were positive for rabies. The second infected cow exhibited showed "neurological signs" and lived only until Tuesday, according to Mike Wood of the Vermont Agriculture Agency. He confirmed that both cows had rabies.

One of the rabid cows was a milker, according to an anonymous source.

Workers at the Charlotte farm apparently consumed raw milk from this rabid cow and may be at risk, according to Wood. However, he cautioned, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has no data regarding humans ever contracting rabies drinking raw or pasteurized milk.

Product from the infected cow left the farm with a shipment of milk, however, Wood said that the risk is extremely low. The tainted milk was pasteurized; any disease agent in it would be quickly destroyed during the critical dairy pasteurization process.

The farm's remaining dairy cows have been vaccinated for rabies, according to Wood. Farmers in the area have been alerted and advised to vaccinate their herds.

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