For Release: Jamie Dukes, Office of Communications (405) 271-5601
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is looking for anyone who had direct contact with a rabid kitten found in the area of N.W. 10th and Purdue Street near the Central Oklahoma Winnelson Company on or around June 8.
The kitten was orange and white in color and was about 6-8 weeks old. It was flea-infested, and had an unsteady gait, matted eyes, and drainage from the eyes and nose. The animal died June 11. Testing at the OSDH Public Health Laboratory later confirmed the presence of rabies.
Public health officials are advising anyone who may have been bitten, or who may have come in direct contact with the kitten between May 29 and June 8 to contact the OSDH epidemiologist-on-call at (405) 271-4060 or (800) 234-5963 (24/7 availability). Health officials want to assess a person’s potential exposure to the kitten and provide recommendations for post-exposure immunizations as indicated. A person who was bitten or had the kitten’s saliva exposed to a fresh skin wound or the eyes, nose or mouth may have been exposed to the rabies virus.
Rabies is a viral disease which affects the central nervous system and is almost always fatal once symptoms of the disease begin. The virus is found in the brain, spinal cord, and saliva of infected animals and is mainly transmitted through a bite from a rabid animal.
The primary carriers of rabies in Oklahoma are skunks and bats. Rabies from infected wildlife can spread to dogs, cats, livestock and other warm-blooded animals if they are not vaccinated against rabies and are bitten by a rabid animal. As of June 14, there have been 32 cases of animal rabies, including six cats, statewide since the beginning of the year. This kitten is the first rabid animal identified in Oklahoma County in 2017. There were seven rabid animals identified in Oklahoma County in 2016.