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Is it safe to consume milk of a cow bitten by a dog?

Q: Can the milk of a cow bitten by a rabid dog be used? The cow died a few days later, cause not known. In the meantime, the milk had been drunk with no apparent ill effects. What precautions are necessary, if any?

A:Rabies is spread by saliva or brain tissue of an infected animal coming in contact with a break in the skin. The virus that causes rabies does not ordinarily exist in milk, even when the animal is sick with rabies. Also, rabies takes many days to develop in the bitten animal. The cow died too soon to have died of rabies or even to have developed infection with rabies that could be transmitted. So it seems very likely that people who drank the milk of this cow will not get rabies. But because rabies is such a severe disease, it would be wise to have your doctor check this out, just to be sure no important part of the story has been missed.


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