NH DHHS Identifies Two Kittens with Rabies in North Conway, NH; Advises Residents to Avoid Direct Contact with Stray Animals
Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has identified rabies in two stray kittens from North Conway, New Hampshire. DHHS is advising residents to avoid direct contact with any stray, feral, or wild animals, including cats and kittens, and exercise caution around unvaccinated pets, which can be infected with rabies by wild animals.
A concerned citizen picked up the first kitten with rabies and took it to the Conway Area Humane Society. Two veterinary practices cared for the kitten before it exhibited symptoms of rabies on November 11th and subsequently tested positive for rabies on November 13th. DHHS has worked with the Humane Society, Town Animal Control Officer, and veterinary practices to identify people who had direct physical contact with the infected kitten and may require preventative treatment to avoid illness. A second kitten tested positive on November 16th and investigation is ongoing to identify people who may have been exposed.
“Rabies is a fatal but preventable disease,” said New Hampshire State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan. “Rabies typically circulates in wild animals, and every year, 20-30 animals test positive for rabies in New Hampshire. The best way to prevent exposure is to avoid direct contact with stray, feral, or wild animals. If a person is exposed to a sick animal, they may need the rabies vaccine and protective antibodies to prevent disease.”
Rabies is a virus that impacts the brain and other parts of the central nervous system. It is transmitted when an infected animal’s saliva makes direct contact with broken skin or mucous membranes, such as the eyes, nose, and mouth. This usually occurs when a person or pet is scratched or bitten by an infected animal. If a person or pet does not receive appropriate medical care after a rabies exposure, the virus can infect the brain, cause neurological symptoms, and ultimately lead to death. Human infections are extremely rare in the United States, and preventative treatment is recommended for people who have an exposure.
All dogs, cats, and ferrets should have up-to-date rabies vaccinations. It is also highly recommended that certain livestock species receive rabies vaccinations. Anyone with questions about rabies or who is concerned they may have been exposed to an animal infected with rabies should seek medical care or call the New Hampshire Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at (603) 271-4496. For more information on rabies, please visit the DHHS website or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.