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State Veterinarian Statement on Oakland County Kitten Infected with Rabies

MDARD urges owners to vaccinate their pets and livestock against rabies

LANSING, MI – Today, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (MDARD) State Veterinarian Nora Wineland, DVM, released the following statement due to an unvaccinated six-month old kitten becoming infected with rabies in Oakland County.

"While this case is unfortunate, it is not unexpected as rabies is regularly detected in Michigan's wildlife—particularly in bats and skunks. This means the virus is present, making it important to vaccinate domestic animals against rabies," said Dr. Wineland. "Any mammal, including humans, can be infected with rabies. By vaccinating pets and livestock against the virus and having them avoid contact with wildlife, it protects both animal health and public health." 

The kitten was found as a stray about six weeks prior to its diagnosis. It was taken to a veterinary practice when it was not eating or drinking and was acting aggressively and unable to use its hindlimbs. The kitten progressively became more ill and was humanely euthanized.

Rabies is a viral disease most commonly transmitted by a rabid animal bite. In 2022, a total of 47 rabid animals, including this kitten, have been detected in Michigan. The other cases include 45 bats and one skunk that were found across 24 counties in Michigan.

Even if an animal is kept indoors, keeping their vaccination against the virus up-to-date serves as an important barrier if they are ever exposed to a wild or stray animal that could be carrying the disease. Please contact your veterinarian for more information about rabies vaccination or to schedule an appointment.

Also, if you think your animal may have had contact with rabid wildlife, it is important to immediately contact your veterinarian or MDARD at 800-292-3939 to determine the next steps to take.

If you are a veterinarian, remember to always consider rabies as a potential diagnosis for neurologic animals. Rabies test kits and submittal forms are available through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

In Michigan, rabies is reportable to the State Veterinarian’s Office. Diseases can be reported to MDARD's Animal Industry Division by email or phone at 800-292-3939.

For more information on rabies, please visit www.michigan.gov/rabies.
 

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Media Contacts: Jennifer Holton, 517-284-5724 or Chelsea Lewis-Parisio, 517-331-1151