New Philadelphia, Ohio - Another bat collected within the city limits has tested positive for the rabies virus.
On Friday, the city Health Department announced that a bat collected in the southwest part of the city was positive for rabies.
Environmental Health Director Lee Finley says the bat was found alive on the floor in the upstairs hallway of a residence. He says the individuals involved are in the process of consulting with medical staff to determine whether post-exposure treatment will be required.
The bat is the second to test positive for the virus in the neighborhood and represents the third case of bat rabies detected in the city in a month’s time.
The first bat was collected on August 27 from outside of a residence in the Schoenbrunn Estates development after a resident called to report an encounter between the animal and a pet cat. Before that, the city had not seen a case of bat rabies since 2009.
The second was collected less than two weeks later in the southwest part of the city after a resident called to report finding the animal trapped by a stray cat he had been feeding.
In light of the recent rabies confirmations, the health department is reminding the public to be aware of the wildlife in their yards; to never, under any circumstances, handle bats, living or dead, without gloves or some other type of personal protection; and to avoid handling sick or injured animals, which can behave in unpredictable ways.
Because bats are very adept at squeezing through small openings, city health officials also strongly recommend that even indoor pets be vaccinated against rabies.
City residents are encouraged to contact the New Philadelphia Health Department to report any bats behaving strangely. The department can be reached by calling 330-364-4491 ext. 1208.
Tuscarawas County residents living outside of New Philadelphia should contact the Tuscarawas County Health Department at 330-343-5555.
Information on bats and rabies can be found online on the Ohio Department of Health website.
STACEY CARMANY, TUSCO TV