A coyote that brazenly attacked a Columbia County’s farmer’s cattle and was killed by farmhands tested positive for rabies today, marking the first such case in the county’s history.
The attack occurred last week at a farm on Scott’s Ferry Road near Appling, said Pam Tucker, the county’s emergency services director.
The county’s Animal Control office sent the carcass to the state Division of Public Health, where test results completed today confirmed rabies.
“This is the first time we’ve ever heard of a rabid coyote,” Mrs. Tucker said, noting that most local rabies cases involve raccoons, which have accounted for four rabies cases in 2008.
It was also unusual for a coyote to attack cattle. “They don’t usually attack something so large,” she said.
Rabies in coyotes is very rare, and only 10 such cases were documented in the entire country during 2006, the most recent year for which complete figures are available, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The owner of the cattle, John Knox, was notified by the Georgia Department of Agriculture that all cows that were in the pasture at the time of the coyote attack must be quarantined for observation for six months to be sure none were infected.
“They advised that he has to watch for any suspicious behavior among the cattle,” she said.
Although rabid coyotes are very unusual, Mrs. Tucker reiterated that precautions such as keeping small pets indoors at night can help avoid confrontations with the common predators.
“It’s really tough for an owner of an animal if it gets attacked,” she said. “This is one of the reasons why it is so important to get your animals vaccinated, and keep those vaccinations up to date.”
The county is planning a clinic in August in which discounted vaccinations will be offered, she said. No time and date have been arranged.