ST. PAUL — An Otter Tail County kitten tested positive for rabies Tuesday. The kitten bit three people, including a 4-year-old child and a pregnant woman.

The owner of the farm where the kitten was fed reported she heard a commotion on her front porch midmorning on October 16. She saw a skunk on the porch attacking an approximately 6-month-old kitten. After separating the kitten and skunk, she recalled seeing blood and bite marks on the kitten’s rear leg.

The farm owner, her 4-year-old son and her pregnant sister were bitten by the kitten in early November. The kitten was then euthanized and submitted for rabies testing. Results were reported on November 12, and the kitten was confirmed to be infected with the rabies virus.

The Board of Animal Health is in the process of completing its investigation to determine the extent of exposure to domestic animals on the farm, which includes two rabies-vaccinated dogs, nine additional unvaccinated cats, beef cattle and a horse.

The Minnesota Department of Health conducted a human exposure investigation and recommended post-exposure prophylaxis for five people who may have been exposed to the rabies virus.

“Minnesota skunks have a very high probability of carrying the rabies virus,” said Board of Animal Health Senior Veterinarian Dr. Courtney Wheeler. “Anyone who observes a pet or livestock interacting with a skunk should contact their veterinarian and the Minnesota Board of Animal Health for recommendations.”

People should be advised of the following:

  • Vaccinate all dogs, cats, ferrets and horses against the rabies virus and keep them up to date.
  • Confine pets or livestock that are bitten by a bat, skunk or other wild animal and consult your veterinarian and the Board for next steps.
  • The minimum confinement period for domestic animals exposed or potentially exposed to the rabies virus is 45 days and may be as long as 180 days.
  • Pets or livestock exposed or potentially exposed to the rabies virus should see a veterinarian within 96 hours for a rabies vaccination.
  • Veterinarians should contact the Board at 651-201-6808 whenever a domestic animal is suspected to have been exposed to the rabies virus.

Anyone with questions or concerns of potential human exposure to rabies should call the Minnesota Department of Health at (651) 201-5414.

Learn about rabies in animals and view a map of positive cases in Minnesota here.