Rabid Kitten Forces Four States to Issue Alerts

The CDC says one cat exposed the rabies virus to people in several states.

Posted: January 5 2008 2 a.m. EDT

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Last July, a rabid kitten turned up in the middle of a multi-state softball tournament and was handled by several players before it began exhibiting signs of illness. The Centers for Disease Control detailed the four-state public health response to the incident in its Jan. 4 "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report."

The South Atlantic Summer Showdown softball tournament took place July 13-15, 2007, in Spartanburg County, S.C., and featured 60 teams along with numerous spectators and tournament coordinators. On July 14, one of the coaches found a healthy-looking kitten in a garbage bin and brought it to at least six different games and then brought the cat to her North Carolina home at the end of the day.

The following day, the cat began behaving abnormally, and the coach’s roommate brought the cat to an emergency veterinary clinic. The cat had bitten the roommate, but the roommate did not disclose that to the veterinarian and furthermore signed a release stating the cat had not bitten anyone in the previous 10 days. Rabies was not suspected. However, the veterinarian determined the cat was extremely ill, and the cat was euthanized and held for cremation.

After a mother of one of the softball players learned of this incident on July 18, she contacted the veterinary clinic to find out if the kitten had been tested for rabies because the cat bit her during the tournament. The cat was subsequently tested, and results confirmed that it had been infected with rabies.

The North and South Carolina divisions of public health obtained team rosters and found that players from the Carolinas as well as from Georgia and Tennessee participated in the tournament. The CDC was contacted along with the health departments in all affected states in an effort to initiate investigations and identify anyone who was exposed to the cat via a bite, lick or scratch.

Thirty-eight individuals said they were in contact with the kitten. They were then interviewed by health department personnel. Of those individuals, 27 people from three states needed vaccinations due to cat saliva exposure.

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Reader Comments

moni    Boise, ID

1/6/2008 8:59:43 PM

Does anyone know what the incubation period is for rabies? I have heard that an animal can have rabies for up to 2 years before showing symptoms.

Lisa    Atlanta, GA

1/6/2008 6:40:26 PM

I had never heard that exposure to cat saliva alone would make it necessary to get a rabies vaccine. I thought that the rabies virus had to get into the blood for a person or animal to get rabies.

Lisa    Prince Rupert, BC

1/6/2008 9:00:14 AM

That's pretty scarey...and sad.

rainshadow    dallas, TX

1/6/2008 6:50:15 AM

I think this is kinda sad, because the kitten had rabies and had to be put to sleep. Also the people had contact with the kitten, and some may have became a bit scared.

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