MONONGALIA COUNTY (WDTV) — A kitten found downtown last week off of Willey Street was taken to a veterinary clinic, but bit some employees and was later found to have rabies. The employees are undergoing post-exposure rabies prophylaxis treatment, according to a registered sanitarian from Monongalia County Health Department’s Environmental Health program.
The kitten was sent to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Office of Laboratory Services last Thursday by MCHD Environmental Health; results came back Friday that the cat was positive for rabies.
Monongalia County experienced higher-than-normal instances of reported rabid animals in 2019 than in recent years, with 20 known cases of rabies. “We investigated 222 animal exposures in 2019,” said Jon Welch, program manager of MCHD Environmental Health. “Of those, 42 required testing and eight tested positive for rabies.” Five of the animals were raccoons and three were stray cats. The raccoons interacted with family dogs that then interacted with their owners. In those instances, the dogs had to be revaccinated for rabies and then monitored, and any people the dogs interacted with also underwent treatment. Additionally, the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS), which conducts rabies surveillance, reported another 12 cases of rabies in Monongalia County, without human exposure.
The first reported case this year was in mid-February. MCHD urges everyone to avoid animals they do not know, including raccoons and bats as well as cats and dogs.
Monongalia County Health Department spent $1,566 to buy 1,080 ORV baits for the drop. This rabies bait distribution took place right after USDA APHIS completed a drop of 49,000 ORV baits in less sparsely populated areas of Monongalia County after MCHD officials asked the agency to move the west-moving zone east again because of the high incidence of reported rabies.