A second calf belonging to a Mathews farmer has been determined to have contracted rabies.
Pat Duttry, environmental health supervisor for the Three Rivers Health District, said that for the second time in 40 days, a calf belonging to Robert Respess of Foster became infected with the disease. The calf showed symptoms on Feb. 26 and was tested on Feb. 27, she said, with results returned the next day.
No bites were found on the calf and there’s no way to determine how it became infected, she said. It’s possible but unlikely that the calf was infected at the same time as Respess’s other calf, which became ill in the latter part of January.
Duttry said state epidemiologist Dr. Karen Gruszynski thinks they were two different incidents, since cases usually come in clusters and the first calf most likely would have died from the illness before the second calf became infected. However, since there’s a lot of variety in the incubation period, she said, there’s a possibility that both were infected by the same animal.
A test performed to determine the variant of the rabies vaccine that infected the first calf was inconclusive, said Duttry. Although the January calf was afflicted by a raccoon variant of rabies, she said, that only means that the rabies first spread through the raccoon population, after which it could have infected other furbearers, such as foxes and opossums. One of those animals could have been the culprit that infected the calves.