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For Release: October 11, 2013 - Pamela Williams, Office of Communications - 405/271-5601

State Health Officials Looking for Individuals Who May Have Been Exposed to a Rabid Kitten in Tahlequah, OK

The Acute Disease Service (ADS) Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is looking for persons who adopted, or had direct contact with, kittens that were advertised for adoption on the Tahlequah Online Garage Sale Facebook group (TOGS), on Tuesday, October 1.  Adopting families picked up the kittens in the Walmart parking lot.  The four kittens are described as approximately 9 weeks old with black and white markings (refer to image of original post below).  On Thursday, October 3, one of the adopted kittens developed symptoms consistent with rabies and was subsequently euthanized.  Rabies testing at the OSDH Public Health Laboratory confirmed the presence of rabies.

While TOGS has been helpful in reaching out to group members, the ADS has been unable to locate adoptive families. Public health officials are asking the persons who adopted the other three kittens, or anyone who may have come in direct contact with the kittens, to contact the Epidemiologist-on-Call at (405) 271-4060 or (800) 234-5963, available 24/7/365.  Health officials want to assess persons’ exposure to the rabid kitten and to locate the other kittens from the same litter quickly as they may have been exposed to the rabies virus. Health officials must conduct personal interviews to determine if individuals who had physical contact with the rabid kitten need to receive immunizations to prevent rabies. Persons who were bitten by the rabid kitten or had the kitten’s 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 viral disease that can be transmitted to animals and humans mainly by a bite, but exposure may also occur through inoculation of saliva or nervous tissue into an opening in the skin or mucous membrane.  Some animals are more likely to be infected with rabies than others.  Skunks, bats, racc oons, foxes, and coyotes, have strains of rabies virus adapted to their species.  The rabies viruses in Oklahoma include those adapted to skunks and bats.  All warm-blooded mammals including dogs, cats, horses, and cattle can become infected with rabies virus.  Thus far in Oklahoma in 2013, there have been a total of 71 cases of animal rabies, including two cats.  There has been one case in Cherokee County.  For more information about rabies, access the OSDH website at http://www.ok.gov/health/Disease,_Prevention,_Preparedness/Acute_Disease_Service/Disease_Information/Rabies.html.

Kittens For Sale Screen Shot

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