For Immediate Release - July 25, 2013

Public Health Alert Regarding Gray’s Ice Cream in Tiverton, RI

DPH seeks individuals who may have had physical contact with calf

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) in conjunction with the Rhode Island Department of Health are advising any individuals who may have touched a young black and white calf in a pasture adjacent to Gray’s Ice Cream in Tiverton, RI to contact DPH.

On July 15, a Massachusetts resident was bitten by a calf that was in a small pasture adjacent to the ice cream shop at 16 East Road in Tiverton. Rhode Island authorities were notified of the bite and the three month-old black and white steer, known as Oreo, was then placed into quarantine that prevented any contact with the public. The animal died in quarantine before testing by RI officials could be completed.

Therefore, out of an abundance of caution, public health officials are considering that this animal may have died from rabies and are viewing anyone that had contact with the animal’s saliva from July 5 through July 21 as potentially at risk for being exposed to rabies, and are recommending that they be evaluated for post-exposure vaccination by public health authorities.

Nationwide, cattle, and cats are the domestic animal species that are most frequently infected with rabies. Transmission of rabies from an infected cow to a human is very rare, but possible. People usually contract rabies through a bite from an infected animal, but there are other ways that they can be infected, such as saliva from an infected animal getting into an open wound or into a person’s eye or mouth. Without proper treatment for rabies exposure, rabies can develop and the infection is virtually always fatal. Proper post-exposure vaccination can prevent infection and death. Public health authorities can help determine whether any contact with this animal constitutes an exposure requiring vaccination.

Massachusetts residents that had contact with the animal are asked to call DPH at 617-983-6800.

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