The Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department is warning pet owners that a domestic cat has tested positive for rabies.
The cat died on May 3, and tested positive for rabies on Monday, May 7. Monday’s case is the first laboratory confirmed rabies case in Ohio County this year. The cat was found in the Market Street area in North Wheeling.
The health department is urging Ohio County residents to be on the lookout for animals acting strangely or aggressively. They also recommend pet owners keep their vaccinations up-to-date.
Rabies is a virus that infects warm-blooded animals, affecting mainly the brain. The disease is common in wildlife, especially bats, raccoons, foxes, and skunks. It is extremely rare in rodents and there have not been any identified naturally-occurring cases in birds.
It spreads through the bites and scratches of an infected animal. It can be fatal if left untreated.
Animals are regularly tested for rabies throughout the year.
Residents are urged to avoid ground feeding any animals, both domestic and wild, especially in residential areas. They should also control and secure residential garbage waste in and around homes and businesses.
For more information, contact the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department at 304-234-3682, or visit www.ohiocountyhealth.com.