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For Release: September 23, 2010 
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

State Health Officials Looking for Individuals Who May Have Been Exposed to a Rabid Kitten in the Pauls Valley Area

Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) officials announced today that persons who had direct contact with a male, short-haired Tabby kitten (approximately four months of age or less) with orange fur and lighter stripes of orange in the Pauls Valley, Oklahoma area during the dates of September 9 through September 19, may have been exposed to rabies virus.  The kitten was found in the pet cage designated for animal drop-offs at the front gate of the Pauls Valley Animal Shelter located at 300 East Airport Industrial Road at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, September 19.    Animal Control officials are not sure if the kitten was left at the front gate by an individual who previously owned the animal, or if the kitten was a stray and was left by an individual who found it in the Pauls Valley area.

Public health officials are asking anyone who may have come in direct contact with this kitten to contact the OSDH Epidemiologist-on-Call at (405) 271-4060 or (800) 234-5963 (24/7 availability) to determine if they need to receive treatment to prevent rabies.  Persons who were bitten by the kitten or had saliva get into a cut or fresh wound on the skin or mucous membranes (eyes, lining of the nose, or mouth) may have been exposed to rabies virus.

Rabies is a virus that spreads through the nervous tissue and affects the brain and spinal cord. If a person has been bitten by a rabid animal or come in direct contact with the rabid animal’s saliva, it is imperative that they receive the preventive immunizations, because there is no treatment for rabies once symptoms of the disease begin approximately 3-8 weeks after exposure. For most persons, the rabies post-exposure prophylaxis series consists of an initial, single dose administration of rabies immune globulin followed by four doses of human rabies vaccine given in the arm muscle over a period of two weeks. The rabies immunizations are considered safe and very effective.

Skunks and bats are the most common wild animals that spread rabies in Oklahoma.  All warm-blooded mammals including dogs, cats, horses, and cattle can become infected with rabies virus.  Keeping pets and valuable livestock vaccinated against rabies protects them from the disease. Thus far in Oklahoma in 2010, there have been a total of 48 cases of animal rabies, including three cats.

For additional information about rabies, please visit the Oklahoma State Department of Health website at www.ok.gov/health.

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