- Associated Press - Friday, August 21, 2015

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi health officials say a bat was the source of rabies found in a wild kitten this week in Starkville.

It is the state’s first confirmed case of rabies in a land mammal since 1961.

The state Health Department announced Friday that the type of rabies found in the black-and-white feral kitten came from a bat. The department said Wednesday that lab tests on brain tissue had confirmed rabies in the kitten.

Dr. Paul Byers, the deputy state epidemiologist, says bats with rabies are regularly identified in Mississippi, and it’s important for people not to touch bats.

The Health Department said exposures to the rabid kitten were reported in downtown Starkville and in a remote area around developed parts of the Thad Cochran Research Park near Mississippi State University.

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