Kitten found with rabies in Oakland County

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published September 15, 2017

OAKLAND COUNTY — Think before you snuggle.

That was the warning that came from the Oakland County Health Division last week after confirming a case of rabies in a stray kitten found in an area bordering Rochester Hills and Troy.

While many would be quick to help a stray cat in need, the department stresses that any wild animals should be treated with caution.

“Our natural instinct is to befriend an animal, pet one that seems friendly or help an injured animal. But stray and wild animals should be avoided,” Kathy Forzley, director of the Oakland County Department of Health and Human Services, said in a press release.

The rabies virus is found in the saliva of affected animals and spreads through bites and scratches. Rabies is most often found in bats, according to Forzley, and the last time the virus was found in another species was back in 2012, when confirmed cases were found in local skunks. 

In fact, two bats have tested positive for rabies this year in Oakland County, according to Joanie Toole, chief of the Oakland County Animal Shelter and Pet Adoption Center. She said the deadly disease is incurable once symptoms are present. 

“This case is a reminder that rabies is present in our communities. People and their pets should be careful to avoid encounters with animals that they do not know,” Forzley said in the release.

Besides the most sound piece of advice — which is to stay clear of animals you’re unfamiliar with — the Oakland County Health Division advised residents to make sure their pets are vaccinated against rabies regularly, which will protect them and prevent them from becoming a carrier that could infect humans.

People should make sure their pet’s food and water are kept in an enclosed space, like inside the house or in a garage, so as to not attract wildlife. The less time that domesticated animals are exposed to wild animals, the lower their risk of contracting rabies.

Toole added that any animals, wild or domestic, that are spotted with rabies symptoms should immediately be reported to animal control. Symptoms include the animal having trouble swallowing, drooling excessively, biting at everything, having trouble moving or even appearing more tame than one might expect.

For more information about rabies, visit oakgov.com/health, call the nurse-on-call service at (800) 848-5533 or email noc@oakgov.com. 

To report a potentially rabid animal, call Oakland County Animal Control at (248) 391-4102.