The New Philadelphia Health Department continues to search for this cat or a similar one believed to have had contact with a rabid bat in the area of Second Drive NE. (Submitted)

New Philadelphia, Ohio (Tusco TV) - City public health officials are sharing information to help residents keep themselves and their pets safe as they continue their search for a cat exposed to the rabies virus. 

New Philadelphia Environmental Health Director Lee Finley says they’ve spent the last two weeks looking for a grayish colored, medium or long-haired cat that came into contact with a rabid bat in the 400 Block of Second Drive NE. He says they’ve followed up on quite a few leads but have yet to locate the feline in question. 

"We’ve had various calls about different cats in different places or whatever. Some of it has been helpful and some of it has been much less than helpful," he says. "I don’t know if people are not reading the newspaper or hearing what’s on the radio and things because we’ve had calls and we get out there and it’s an orange cat, and we’ve had calls for a black cat. "

Finley says they will continue looking for the cat and responding to any tips that come in. It could take up to six months for an infected animal to develop full-blown rabies and become contagious, but Finley they still want people to be aware of what to watch out for in case they don’t find the cat before that happens. 

"If an animal all of the sudden does start acting different, whether it’s a stray that they’re feeding or whether it’s their own cat, if the animal refuses to eat or drink, it tends to be getting a little bit more drool or anything else, things like that, they need to talk to their vet, take it to their vet if they can, and also don’t touch the animal with their bare hands," he says.

Meanwhile, the health department is also renewing its plea for residents to have even their indoor pets vaccinated against the virus. Finley says they’ve found multiple rabid bats in the city over the past year, including several that had found their way into people’s homes. 

The New Philadelphia City Health Department can be reached at 330-364-4491 ext.1208. 


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