A kitten abandoned under a shed in Fountain recently tested positive for rabies - the first time in 47 years that public health officials found a rabid domestic cat in El Paso County.
Health officials suspect the cat contracted the virus from its mother, a spotted, multi-colored calico cat last seen in early October, according to Marigny Klaber, regional epidemiologist for El Paso County Public Health. Four other rabid cats have been found this year in Colorado.
The case comes just a few months after public health officials found the first confirmed cases of rabies west of Interstate 25 in animals other than bats.
Two rabid foxes - one of which attacked a man protecting his dog - and a rabid skunk were found in the Broadmoor neighborhood during the summer.
They all appeared to carry a strain of rabies that's commonly found in bats. It's unknown what strain infected the kitten.
"Since 2009, we need consider that El Paso County is endemic with rabies," Klaber said. "Meaning there's a possibility if you come upon a wild animal - or at this point, a domestic animal - who is stray or acting abnormally, you should not approach it."
The kitten in Fountain was found on South Race Street. Health officials assessed people who were around the kitten, and they asked anyone else who contacted stray cats or kittens in the area over the last two weeks to contact El Paso County Public Health.
The last confirmed human case of rabies in Colorado was in 1931, when the virus infected a Manitou Springs resident, Klaber said.
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