MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) — A man bitten by a rabies-positive kitten has renewed the push for pet vaccinations by Alabama health officials.

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), the rabies-positive kitten was found on a Greenville resident’s porch and eventually bit him. The resident had been caring for the 8-week-old kitten when he was bitten.

ADPH said the kitten was presumed to be from a nearby feral cat colony, and later died.

Amidst an investigation into the incident, authorities are offering tips on how to interact with wildlife that may be infected with rabies and recommending the most up-to-date vaccinations for pets.

“In a world of emerging infectious diseases, rabies is certainly not new, but it remains a threat to people and animals,” said State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Dee Jones. “Fortunately, there are very effective, accessible prevention methods in animals; unfortunately, sometimes it just comes down to compliance. Cases of rabies in domestic animals give ADPH an opportunity to remind people of the need to be vigilant on vaccinating their animals.”

ADPH states that Alabama law requires dogs, cats, and ferrets that are more than 12 weeks old to have a current rabies vaccination. Those vaccines are also available to horses and other livestock.

According to health officials, vaccines not only protect animals and their caretakers, but reduces the risk of an infection if a pet is exposed.

ADPH offered these tips to avoid your pet contracting rabies:

  • Don’t let pets run loose without a fenced-in yard or leash
  • Don’t leave out uneaten pet food or scraps
  • Don’t illegally feed or keep wildlife as pets
  • Don’t go near wild or domesticated animals acting in a strange way
  • Don’t let children go near a stray or wild animal

Learn more about rabies, prevention, and vaccines at 334-206-5969 or alabamapublichealth.gov.