FORT COLLINS, Colo. - Three adults and five children are being treated for exposure to rabies by an infected kitten that bit and scratched them.
The kitten was born to an unvaccinated barn cat on a rural agricultural property north of Fort Collins, according to the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment. Spokeswoman Jane Viste said this is the first case of rabies in a cat since that health department was established in 1968.
The cat was euthanized and sent to the CSU Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, which confirmed it had rabies and was unvaccinated.
In addition, six other unvaccinated cats from the property were euthanized and the health department is restricting livestock to the property for the next 90 days.
"The risk of domestic animals being exposed to rabies increased significantly in May 2012 when rabid skunks became common in Larimer County," Viste explained in a press release. "Previously, bats had been the main carrier of rabies."
Thirty-two animals have been confirmed to have rabies in Larimer County since January 1, 2013.
Keeping pets and livestock vaccinations current is the best way to keep animals and people safe, the health department says.