A woman in Pennington County reported one kitten from a six-week-old litter meowing more noticeably than others on June 22. She picked up the kitten to investigate the meowing and was bitten. Later, the kitten began acting strangely, shaking and was disoriented. The following day it was unresponsive and appeared dead, so it was euthanized and submitted for rabies testing. A positive test result was confirmed on June 26.
The owner recalled seeing a skunk about two weeks before the kitten started showing signs of illness. Although none of the surviving cats are vaccinated against the rabies virus, the mother and the rest of the litter of kittens appear healthy. A dog also lives on the property, and is overdue for a rabies vaccination. The Board of Animal Health is currently investigating this case to determine recommendations for the property owner.
The Minnesota Department of Health has advised post-exposure prophylaxis for the owner suffering the bite from the rabies-positive kitten. No other family members were exposed to the kitten.
This is the first domestic animal to test positive for rabies in 2017. To date, there have been three positive bats, six skunks, one fox, and most recently this kitten; totaling 11 rabies positive animals so far this year. Additionally, there have been five bats with equivocal test results, which means the laboratory is unable to confirm the result as either positive or negative. Equivocal test results are treated as positive for all follow-up to be as safe as possible.
For information on rabies in animals and to view a map of positive cases in Minnesota please follow this link to the rabies program page. For questions on rabies exposure to domestic animals call 651-201-6808. If you have questions about rabies in people, please contact the Minnesota Department of Health at 651-201-5414.