From Press Reports
According to local veterinarian Joe Duncan, the first Mississippi land animal case of rabies in 54 years has been confirmed by state health officials in a feral kitten.
Of particular interest is the close proximity to Webster County with the positive test being in Starkville near the Thad Cochran Research Park near the Mississippi State campus.
The Mississippi State Department of Health reported Friday that testing of the cat’s brain tissue confirmed that the cat was infected with rabies from a bat.
“We regularly identify bats with rabies in Mississippi, so these results tell us that the cat became infected after contact with an infected bat rather than contact with another animal,” said Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers.
“However, this serves as a reminder to never touch or handle bats, and if you do have exposure to a bat, contact your local healthcare provider and your provider can contact the Mississippi State Department of Health for consultation.”
The rabies virus is transmitted through bites or saliva from infected animals. People should avoid contact with any wild animal especially foxes, raccoons, coyotes, bats and skunks. Report any animals acting strangely to local health officials. This includes domestic animals as well. Even livestock can contract the disease. Infected animals are not always aggressive and may just act sick or oblivious to their surroundings.
Mississippi law requires all dogs and cats have current rabies vaccinations. Puppies and kittens should be vaccinated at 12 weeks of age and receive a booster at 1 year of age. After that one- and three-year vaccinations are available.
For more information on rabies, visit the MSDH website at HealthyMS.com/rabies.