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FOR RELEASE: June 19, 2002
CONTACT: Dick Gunn

State Health Officials Looking for Kittens that May Have Been Exposed to Rabies

The Oklahoma State Department of Health is asking for the public's cooperation today to find three kittens that were given away at an Edmond Wal-Mart last Saturday, June 15.

One littermate has tested positive for rabies following exposure to a rabid skunk. The other three kittens may have been potentially exposed to rabies from contact with their littermate or the skunk.

Persons who adopted the kittens at the Wal-Mart Supercenter parking lot at Danforth and Santa Fe in Edmond should contact the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Communicable Disease Division epidemiologist-on-call at 271-4060.

Two of the kittens were tan or pale orange in color and one kitten was white with tan-colored ears and tail.

Animal rabies is not unusual in Oklahoma. Rabies is an infectious, viral disease that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals. There are two types of exposure to the rabies virus. The most dangerous type results from a bite from a known rabid animal that punctures the skin. A non-bite exposure can result when saliva, spinal fluid or brain tissue from a rabid animal gets into an open wound or mucous membrane. Rabies cannot be spread by contact with blood, urine, feces, or dried saliva; or by petting or touching the hair of a rabid animal or touching feeding bowls or other surfaces the rabid animal contacted.

With the onset of summer, more people are outside and in contact with nature, wildlife, and domestic animals, which may increase the chance of exposure to rabies. To prevent exposure to rabies, teach children to never handle wild animals, or approach unfamiliar dogs or cats. Pet owners are advised to keep dogs and cats close to home to reduce contact with other animals. Outdoor dogs should be kenneled, or kept within a fenced-in yard. Cats should be kept indoors as much as possible and not allowed to roam freely at night.

Oklahoma state law requires that all dogs, cats and ferrets be immunized against rabies by or under the supervision of a veterinarian by the age of 4 months. Health officials recommend that horses and valuable livestock also be vaccinated against rabies.



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