CONCORD – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services has identified rabies in a kitten from Danville.

The kitten was taken on Nov. 13 to the Salem Animal Rescue League at 4 SARL Drive, Salem, where it reportedly began exhibiting symptoms of rabies on Nov. 19 and tested positive for the virus on Nov. 21.

Working closely with the Salem Animal Rescue League, which requires all visitors to the kitten room to sign in, DHHS has identified all people who have had direct physical contact with the kitten and is contacting them to assess their potential risk for exposure to the rabies virus and the need for preventative treatment.

The kitten was available to visitors only on Nov. 14. People who did not visit the kitten room on Nov. 14 or who visited the kitten room on other dates would not have come into contact with the affected kitten.

Prior to arriving at the Salem Animal Rescue League, the kitten lived outdoors in the area of Main Street between Cobblers Ridge and Hersey Road in Danville.

There are believed to be other outdoor cats and kittens in this area that may be at risk for having rabies as well.

The town’s animal control officer is investigating this situation.

People should not take in or house stray cats or other stray animals and anybody who may have had direct contact with stray cats or kittens in this area should call the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services’ Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at (603) 271-4496 to discuss their risk for rabies and to determine if treatment is recommended to prevent illness.

“It’s important to remember that rabies is transmitted through direct contact with the saliva from an infected animal. This can occur through a bite, scratch, or exposure of saliva to broken skin or the mucous membranes like eyes, nose and mouth,” said New Hampshire State Epidemiologist, Dr. Benjamin Chan. “Petting a rabid animal or contact with the blood, urine or feces of a rabid animal are not risks for infection. Administering rabies vaccine and immune globulin after an exposure can prevent disease.”

Rabies virus becomes noninfectious when it dries out and when it is exposed to sunlight. Rabies occurs worldwide, and although human infections are extremely rare in the United States, infections occur when people are scratched or bitten by an infected animal and do not seek appropriate treatment. Because wild animals can carry diseases without appearing to be sick, it is important to enjoy wildlife from a distance.

Close contact with wildlife (including stray cats and dogs) can spread these diseases to people and pets.

Stray domesticated animals should undergo veterinary inspection and quarantine to prevent the spread of these diseases when they are rescued or adopted. By law, all dogs, cats, and ferrets should have up-to-date rabies vaccinations. It is highly recommended that certain livestock species also receive rabies vaccination.

Anyone with questions about rabies can call the New Hampshire Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at (603) 271-4496.  The Rabies Fact Sheet and additional information is available on the DHHS website and on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website atcdc.gov.

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