UNDATED (WOOD) — The state veterinarian is urging Michiganders to get their pets vaccinated after rabies was discovered in a six-month-old stray kitten in Oakland County.
Six weeks before its diagnosis, the unvaccinated kitten was found as a stray. Once it stopped eating and drinking, could not use its back legs and and began to act aggressively, it was taken to a vet’s office. Eventually, the kitten became too sick and had to be put down, according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
“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 MDARD’s Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland.
Any mammal, including humans, can be infected with rabies. The viral disease is most commonly transmitted by an animal bite, according to MDARD.
“By vaccinating pets and livestock against the virus and having them avoid contact with wildlife, it protects both animal health and public health,” said Wineland.
Just this year, a total of 47 rabid animals, including the kitten, have been found across 24 counties in Michigan. The others were 45 bats and one skunk, MDARD said.
The department says keeping your pets indoors and getting them up-to-date rabies vaccinations is important in case they’re ever exposed to a wild or stray animal with the disease.
If you think your pet has been exposed to rabies, contact your vet or MDARD at 800.292.3939. The department encourages veterinarians to always consider rabies as a potential diagnosis for neurologic animals. Rabies test kits and submittal forms can be found through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
For more information, visit the state website.