New Philadelphia, Ohio (WJER) - City health officials are looking for a cat that has been in contact with a bat confirmed this week to be infected with rabies.
Environmental Health Director Lee Finley says his department was contacted by a homeowner on 2nd Drive NE Friday to report finding a dead bat that a neighbor’s cat had caught. Finley says they are now asking for the public’s help locating the calico cat before it’s too late.
“If somebody was using gloves or something else, they would be safe at that point. The problem is that if it is a stray, some strays are on the side of being feral and they don’t like anybody touching them or picking them up,” he says. “If it’s a cat that they do not know, just let us know and we can come out and give it a look.”
Finley says it’s early in the season to be finding rabies, but he says he’s not surprised to find the virus again given last year's cases. He says they are still following state guidelines every time a dead bat is found.
“Either in a sleeping area where you may not have known that something was on you or if you have children below the age of two in the house, there’s no way they can say, mommy or daddy, this thing was on me or anything like that,” he says. “Under those circumstances, we automatically send a bat to Columbus for testing.”
Finley says vaccines given within 96 hours of exposure are still effective, so he says they hope to find the cat and treat it before the virus takes hold, if it was infected.