Morning Dove – Rabies Story

This is a long one, and a hard one. I’m hoping that this will help someone identify rabies in their own herd and take the right steps. I’m hoping that someone can benefit from the loss of my most favorite kid. She was really going to be special, you could just tell!
I am in Sullivan County, New Hampshire. On May 8, 2020 we had a skunk acting strangely run around the farm. It was definitely in with the goats and the horses over night. We are now sure it was rabid. I will get videos of the skunk and Dove up on YouTube and link over to that along with more pictures of Dove. The links are at the bottom of this page.

***PLEASE vaccinate your herd. The vaccination is SubQ over a shoulder and should cost you less than $10.00 per head. Talk to your vet about rabies in your area. It is making a comeback!

This is my original post on Facebook, seeking help from anyone else who might have an idea;
“Alright… I need some help here, friends. This is Morning Dove, a three month old healthy Alpine doeling.
On Thursday she was itching her face on everything; it was cute and silly.
Friday she was screaming bloody murder and acting like a little buck; deafening, still kinda silly and cute and maybe her first heat cycle even though it’s kinda young, it’s not impossible.
Saturday she is still screaming and acting like a buck. Still rubbing her head everywhere. Saturday night (8pm) I thought “hey, is her right eye kinda swollen?”
Sunday morning (8am) her right eye is just a slit. First/left picture. Her left eye is normal. She is still screaming and rubbing her head on everyone and everything. Gave her 5ml liquid Benadryl around 10am.
Sunday 1230 we go to the emergency vet; a shot of Dex(unknown dose) and some Meloxicam (1/2tablet per day for four days). He says maybe a bee sting or other trauma?
Monday… Both her eyes are swollen shut. She’s still screaming, but she’s kinda hoarse. She’s tired. Nothing has helped at all.
The swelling is not rock hard, it is firm. Not squishy. Her temperature is normal. Her eyes are clear. She can eat, drink and nurse but is in so much distress that she only takes a few bites here and there. When I touch her head she pushes against me to itch/rub – it doesn’t hurt her? The swelling probably hurts, but the skin is itchy? We treated for lice the week before using Python Dust and Horse Lice Dust.”

Giving Benadryl 5mL every 6 hours. Giving Dex at .3mL. Will wash out eyes as best I can. Isolated in a darkish place with sugar water and some soft hay and a little grain.

6/16/20 10:30AM EST
Dove is at the vet again. She did not improve with any treatments. She has gone further down hill: the swelling is the same or worse, it is very firm and the vet says “almost bony.” The upper portion of her face appears paralyzed – she cannot blink or move her eyeballs. She is grinding her teeth nonstop – cannot eat or drink. She can stand and walk okay but is unsteady, whether that is from lack of nutrients in the last few days or her illness I do not know. Her body temperature has plummeted since 630am – it is too low to read. She was given Dex, Meloxicam, Benadryl, Penicillin, and VitaJec at 630. No improvement.
The vet suspects a head injury/trauma from another goat but there is nothing obvious on xrays – still not ruled out bc x-rays are 2D.
Vet also suspects and thinks is probable… Rabies.
We had a skunk run amok around the farm in the evening on May 8th. It was not afraid of people or other animals. It did not care if dirt was thrown at it or it was pushed away by a shovel. It was under the horses feet and did not care. It was in the goat pen for a time… In the morning on May 9th it was still around. It left on its own and hasn’t been seen since.
If Dove is not improved by around 4pm today she will be euthanized and tested for Rabies. I will definitely let everyone know. The does not believe any meds will work, but wants to give her until the end of the day to be certain. It isn’t in me to give up either, so we try.
The rest of the herd and other animals on the farm will be vaccinated if they aren’t utd.
Rabies symptoms that Dove has exhibited;
Aggressive (bucky behavior)
Some drooling/salivation
Swelling of the head
Facial paralysis

6/16/20 7:30PM EST
In a totally crazy, unexpected and cautiously optimistic/happy turn of events… Dove improved while at the vet. They gave her IV fluids and some Karo syrup and got her warmed up to 96.3 (hey it can be read on the thermometer!!) Her left eye is partially open and moves. Her right eye is also a little more open, although it’s still too small of a slit to see out of. She is VERY sleepy – but it is a restful sleep, not a drug induced sleep. She is no longer grinding her teeth or screaming. She moans occasionally and goes back to sleep.
In the morning we will do repeat this mornings dose of Dex @ 2.5mL IM at vet direction. I will add VitaJec and Penicillin because it is part of the cocktail I threw at her this morning.
(Dex 2.5ml Penn 1.5ml VitaJec .5ml -IM // Meloxicam tablet 7.5mg Benadryl 5ml Ivermectin 100lb -Orally)
I do not know if this helped her. Please consult a vet before giving your critter any medication unless you know 100% what you’re doing.

6/17 9:30AM
Dove is awake more, but still sleeping a lot. Her temperature is still in the 96° range so we are still working on that. The swelling has gone down more. Her right eye is still mostly closed but the actual eye is visible and definitely moves in sync with the left eye. I’m not sure that she can smell anything – if it’s head trauma then a concussion is expected and can effect the senses. She ate some grain and drank some water. If she doesn’t drink more soon I will be giving her fluids. This morning she received Dex 2.5mL IM, Penicillin 2mL IM, and VitaJec 1.5mL IM. Hopefully she continues to improve – she is absolutely not out of the woods and could crash anytime.
I’d also like to reiterate that although this does not look like rabies anymore, it is only based on the small improvement. The signs for rabies are still the same. Work with your regular veterinarian to get your herd vaccinated. My vet quotes me $6.90/vaccination. If you are not travelling and don’t need an “official” record for rabies then your vet may allow you to give the shot yourself. Regardless – it is worth the money to get this done. I’m going to be writing more on rabies in goats in my blog. It’s something that needs to be talked about and I don’t want to clog up Dove’s post with it.

6/18 8:30AM
She is finally sleeping. She spent half of yesterday and most of the night awake and moaning or yelling. Not quite screaming. But she was itching. Itching and scratching and itching and scratching. Her poor head is covered in pink spots from the itching and rubbing and scratching. She is still getting her Dex and VitaJec. I skipped the Penicillin today – I don’t think there’s an infection to treat at this point. The swelling is nearly gone and she can use both eyes now. All the antibiotic does is stop up her rumen and make her constipated (correct me if I’m wrong on that, regardless there isn’t a need for the antibiotic at this point.) So today I’m headed to the store for Milk of Magnesia to help get her bowels moving again. She hasn’t eaten a lot but she looks like she strains a little bit now and then. An enema helped yesterday around 2pm but not since then.
While I wait for a car to borrow (truck’s at the shop) I decided that a bath might help with the itching. Or maybe it won’t… But at least I tried something, right? Anyway. I bathed her in the tub with warm water and a space heater – omg it’s so hot in here. I dried her off and wrapped her in a warm towel in front of the heater and she fell asleep. Instantly. No yelling or itching or biting or licking… Just sleeping. I don’t know if this will last or if she’s just exhausted. I’m exhausted so I hope the bath is why she is comfortable now.
(The space heater is just outside the picture frame)

6/19 10AM
The swelling has gone away almost entirely. She is not super interested in food, but she did seem to be kinda constipated yesterday. She’s passed a bunch of pelletish poos over night and this morning so hopefully she will feel better and want to eat and drink on her own. She’s getting fluids every day SubQ and still on Dex and VitaJec. Milk of Magnesia and Probiotics are being given regularly to help her keep her rumen and bowels going.

6/20 10AM
Her temperature normalized. Hopefully it stays that way. She does not eat – we’re syringe feeding her milk and Power Punch for goats. She’s also getting Milk of Magnesia, fluids subQ, VitaJec and Dex.
We are now battling her not wanting to eat. And the itching. Still itching. Dex is a super powerful anti-itch steroid(among other things.). There’s no reason for her to be so itchy…. I gave her the bath and it does seem to have helped.
I’m not one to give up. If she is still fighting, then so am I. I don’t know how to give up – I don’t think it’s in me. It feels like if I give up before she does, then I’m euthanizing her for my own comfort – not hers. Don’t get me wrong, she’s absolutely miserable right now. She is. She itches, she’s hungry, she can’t poop consistently or comfortably, she’s weak and she’s tired and she’s absolutely sick of feeling like shit. But she’s fighting to live. So until she gives up… How can I?

6/20 3PM
Dove is starting lay on her side. Not in a restful way. I’m afraid that despite everything I have done… Well I’ll be surprised if she makes it through the day and completely shocked if she’s alive on Sunday morning. I’ve done everything I can think of. It’s still possible she could turn around… It’s just unlikely. She is now a “down” animal. And anyone who’s ever had an animal go “down” knows that it is very different than sleepy. Still trying because she’s still trying… It doesn’t look good.

6/22 8AM
Dove did not make it.
Yesterday was so hard. She tried to stay upright, she tried to poop and she cooperated with the syringe feeding. She tried to follow me around outside – I was hoping that a little movement might help her poop. She was so wobbly and tired.
She lost total control of her legs yesterday. She could still move them even this morning, but not always the way she was trying to move them. When she tried to walk she couldn’t always get her front leg in front of her and couldn’t tell that it wasn’t where it should be. So she would start to put weight on it, but it was still curled under a bit and her knee would fold up. She could tell something was wrong, but not fix it.
This morning she couldn’t stand at all. She couldn’t even sit sternal. I don’t know if it was happening before, but this morning I noticed that all of her muscles were nearly constantly spasming. Her shoulder and the back of her hind leg were the most obvious. Maybe that contributed to some of the flailing and the struggle to use her legs? I don’t know.
She is no longer in pain. She will be tested for rabies and I will update everyone when I know. Hopefully there is an answer somewhere. Thank you all for your kind words, advice and support. I only hope that this can help someone else.
And if you do nothing else for your herd today, make a plan to get them vaccinated for rabies. That kind of fear when you put together the ripple effect it will have is something no one should have to face.

Note: Dove was euthanized at the vet around 7AM. The vet then removed her brain and packaged it with all the necessary paper work. In order to speed up the process, we transported it to the State Laboratory in Concord, NH. We arrived around 1PM or 2PM. The results took less than 24 hours.

6/23/2020 8AM

See photos here: Morning Dove on Flickr
See videos here: Morning Dove on YouTube
See home medical records here: Kintraks PDF in Google Drive
Both links open in a new window.

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I'm a farmer. I raise goats, ride horses and try really hard to grow vegetables.

5 thoughts on “Morning Dove – Rabies Story”

  1. So sorry for your loss :(( A couple years back two horses at a neighboring ranch died from botulism, within a day. (Ravens had washed their kill in their water trough, which seemed to be the entry point.) They presented as with a colic, but had trouble swallowing. Walking (like for a colic) spread the toxin and sadly made matters even worse. Strange diseases certainly throw us for a big, heartbreaking loop. Thank you for sharing this! Dawn

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s awful. It is so hard to lose them, and made even worse when we accidentally take part in expediting the process! Botulism is exactly why I don’t feed round bales… I had no idea it could get in through a water trough! Thank you for sharing

      Liked by 2 people

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