RICHMAND, Virginia (WRIC) – Some Richmond residents are on high alert after health officials confirmed that 12 people had been exposed to a rabid kitten.
Health officials said four civilians and eight Richmond Animal Care and Control workers had been exposed to the infected animal.
Richmond and Henry County Health said a kitten was picked up along Fifth Avenue in Highland Park last week.
He was referred to the RACC and tested positive for rabies.
Kenneth Smith, program manager for the Richmond City County Health Department, said positive test results came to his desk Monday night.
“We didn’t do any rabies tests on humans, we set them up to do the initial vaccinations,” he said.
Before working with animals, RACC employees are vaccinated against rabies. Smith said they were evaluated to see if they had immunity or should be vaccinated.
“As a rule, domestic cats, dogs or ferrets do not suffer from rabies. To get rabies, you need to contact him or bite a wild animal, ”he said.
Smith said the rabid kitten was most likely a stray animal.
This is the city’s first case of animal rabies this year compared to two reported cases of animal rabies in bats and raccoons in 2021. Rabies is a virus that attacks the nervous system of mammals and humans, and can be deadly.
Angelita King, who lives on Fifth Avenue, said she noticed something in her neighborhood.
“I saw a stray kitten that stayed a lot on this porch,” she said.
Smith said that if you have pets or ever encounter a wild animal, follow them tips:
-Vaccine all cats, dogs, ferrets and animals against rabies and update their vaccinations
-Do not allow pets to roam freely in the neighborhood; keep them on a leash when walking them
-Report stray animals to your local animal control agency
“If you feed your pet outdoors, be sure to check and return food and water. Don’t leave it overnight, it attracts wildlife and can cause problems, ”he said.
King added that her neighbors, especially those who have pets, should keep a tight leash and stay away from wild animals.
“If you have a pet, you have to treat them the way you treat your family members,” she said.
For information on rabies clinics at your local health department, click here.