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Inspectors check equipment at goat farm where rabies found

A donkey at Elodie Farms in Durham County died of rabies, prompting concerns about the safety of goat cheese and for students who visited the farm.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — State agriculture inspectors visited a Rougemont goat farm Tuesday to check pasteurization equipment after a donkey on the farm died of rabies.

The donkey at Elodie Farms died last week, and testing determined the animal had contracted rabies. One goat that was put down Saturday because of suspect behavior tested negative for the highly contagious virus, but four other goats that have scrapes remain under quarantine.

"While we are not convinced that (the scrapes) indicate that they were scratched by the donkey or bitten by the donkey, we still want to be very cautious," said Brian Long, spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.

State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Carl Williams said officials would observe the rest of the herd, as well as two horses, for 15 days to ensure that the herd hasn't been infected.

Farm owner Dave Artigues said he stopped selling goat cheese at the Durham Farmers Market Saturday after learning that a veterinarian had put down one of his goats as a precaution.

Artigues said he won't produce any more goat cheese until state inspectors give him the go-ahead.

"Pasteurized dairy products do not carry a risk of contamination from rabies," Long said, adding that inspectors want to be extra careful because of the unusual case of a rabid donkey in contact with a herd of goats.

"This is somewhat of an unprecedented event for us," he said.

There is no reason to recall Elodie Farms' goat cheese at this point, Long said.

"We don't see, so far, evidence that would lead us to believe that there was any type of imminent threat that would require that type of action," he said.

Artigues also has stopped all visits to his farm and has canceled a cheese class that was scheduled for Sunday until officials determine none of his farm animals have rabies.

Ten to 15 students from Montessori Farm School in Hillsborough toured Elodie Farms last week and interacted with the goats. Numerous other people visited the farm in late March as part of a Farm Day event.

Officials don't believe people who attended the Farm Day event were around the donkey, Williams said, so they shouldn't worry about contracting rabies.

Artigues said his girlfriend and his two sons have started receiving rabies vaccinations, and state public health officials recommended rabies shots only for people who were in close contact with the donkey.



Erin Hartness, Reporter
Pete James, Photographer
Matthew Burns, Web Editor

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