The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are alerting the public that a kitten collected from Jamestown in the vicinity of Highland Drive and Ft. Wetherill State Park that has died, has tested positive for rabies. The kitten was adopted by a Jamestown resident in August. DEM is attempting to determine if other cats or kittens from the colony in Ft. Wetherill have also been adopted.
Based on reports, this cat had been part of a colony of feral cats. It is not known if other cats in the colony are exhibiting signs of rabies but it must be assumed that all cats in the colony may have been exposed to rabies and therefore are potentially infected.
According to R.I. State Veterinarian Scott Marshall, DVM, this particular rabies case is of concern because the kitten came from an area in which other non-vaccinated animals and people may have been exposed. Those people may not be aware that they or their animals have been exposed to rabies.
Anyone who may have had contact with feral cats in this area should contact HEALTH for evaluation of their risk at 222-2577 weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Those with domestic animals that may have had contact with cats or kittens in this colony should call the Jamestown Police Department at 423-1212.
All dogs, cats and ferrets are required by State law to have current vaccination against rabies. Vaccination of pet animals prevents them from contracting rabies, and prevents people from becoming exposed to rabies from their pets. HEALTH and DEM make the following recommendations: • Make sure dogs, cats and ferrets are properly vaccinated against rabies. It is the law. • Avoid all contact with stray, wild or free-roaming domestic animals. • Call HEALTH if you have had any contact with a stray, wild or free-roaming domestic animal. • Call your local animal control officer if an animal you own has had contact with a stray, wild or free-roaming domestic animal. • Secure all trash so that animals will not be attracted to it. • Do not feed animals outdoors, as this will attract other animals. This is especially dangerous when feeding large numbers of free-roaming cats. • Do not leave pets outdoors loose or unattended.
For online information about rabies, go to DEM's website, www. dem.ri.gov, and click on "Public Health Updates," or go to the HEALTH website, www.health.ri.gov, and click on "Topics and Programs" "R" (Rabies).