Nick McWilliams reporting – The New Philadelphia Health Department is asking for public help locating a potentially rabid cat.

Last Thursday, a resident of the city saw an unknown cat playing with something in his yard, which was identified Friday as a bat, which was later picked up by the health department and sent to Columbus for testing.

Director of Environmental Health Lee Finley says tests came back positive Monday.

“We were notified this afternoon the bat was positive for rabies. Unfortunately, this fellow who found the bat, he didn’t know whose cat it was. So that’s what we’ve been trying to do. We’ve been out this afternoon, going door-to-door, knocking, trying to see if anyone knows where the cat is.”

The grey, long-haired cat in question was last seen on 2nd Drive in the 400 Block.

Finley says any animal that has contracted rabies usually only has around 10 days to live, but can transmit the disease to other animals or humans.

The unusual aspect of the incident comes from the timing of the confirmed case, which Finley says is earlier than he would have expected.

“Typically, when we have had bats be found here in New Philadelphia that were rabid, [it] was more in the summer months. This surprises me a little bit that it was this early in the season. The bats, right now, should be just coming out of hibernation. So I would be surprised that anything had just contracted rabies, over that time, unless it is something that has migrated here. But it does surprise me a little bit.”

Anyone who is exposed to any bats is asked to call the department for guidance.

Another bat was taken to Columbus for testing, after being found in an area home with a 2-year old present.   

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