The exact cause of death for this calf is pending, say officials at the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (DOH), but rabies infection has been ruled out as a cause of death.
The calf was the second to die in recent days in Tiverton in a small pasture-pen enclosure adjacent to Gray’s Ice Cream in Tiverton Four Corners.
The first calf — one that was black and white and that was kept in the same enclosure — was found dead July 21, but the tissues of the animal had decomposed too badly to allow for testing by the time authorities were able to get to it.
The incident involving the first calf was reported last Thursday, July 25. The second calf died the next day, Friday.
Following the sudden death of the first calf, the DEM and the DOH advised any individuals who may have touched the animal to contact DOH.
That advisory remains in effect, out of an abundance of caution, say officials. Anyone who had physical contact with the black-and-white calf between July 5 and July 21, they say, should contact the health department at 401-222-2577 for evaluation of their potential rabies exposure.
Members of the public should note, the DOH says, that the black-and-white calf was removed from direct public contact on July 16, and that only the animal’s handlers may have been exposed during the period from July 16 through July 21.
The department advises that any individual who had physical contact with the calf prior to July 5 is not at risk for rabies from that contact.
After the death of the first calf, Marilyn Bettencourt, the owner of the calves and of Gray’s Ice Cream, reported the death to Tiverton’s animal control officer, said The Providence Journal Friday, but the officer was out on three days sick leave, according to Tiverton Police Chief Thomas Blakey, and did not get the message until he returned.
Neither Chief Blakey or Ms. Bettencourt could be reached by telephone Friday.