A kitten in Otter Tail County tested positive for rabies this week. The animal was euthanized and examined after it bit three people earlier this month, including a 4-year-old child and a pregnant woman.
According to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, the 6-month-old kitten lived on a farm with several other cats and animals.
The farm owner reported she heard a commotion on her porch Oct. 16 and saw a skunk attacking the kitten. The kitten was able to escape but suffered bite wounds.
A few weeks later, the kitten attacked the farm owner, her 4-year-old son, and her pregnant sister. There is no live test for rabies in animals, so the cat was euthanized and submitted for testing.
Because the test came back positive, the Board of Animal Health is investigating to determine the extent other animals on the farm have been exposed to rabies. Those animals include two rabies-vaccinated dogs, nine unvaccinated cats, beef cattle, and a horse.
The Minnesota Department of Health conducted a separate human exposure investigation and determined up to five people may have been exposed and should see a medical provider for postexposure prophylaxis (PEP).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, PEP consists of a series of vaccinations that help people fight off the disease.
To prevent the spread of rabies, the Board of Animal Health recommends vaccinating all dogs, cats, ferrets and horses.
If an animal is bitten by a wild animal—especially a bat or a skunk because they're notorious for carrying rabies—confine the animal and contact a veterinarian immediately.
Anyone with questions about possible human exposure to rabies can call the Department of Health at 651-201-5451.
For more information about rabies and to see a map of cases reported in Minnesota, click here.