The Ohio Department of Health confirmed a Trumbull County woman was bitten by a cat infected with rabies.
In just the past few months, several cases of rabies have been reported with three raccoons found to be infected with the virus in Mahoning County and now a cat in Trumbull County.
Mahoning County District Board of Health Commissioner Patricia Sweeney said there has been an increase in the number of cases compared to past years. According to statistics from the Ohio Department of Health, there were two confirmed rabies cases in Mahoning County last year and just one case each in Trumbull and Columbiana counties.
Sweeney said if a human is exposed to any animal, even household pets, they believe has come in contact with the rabies virus, they need to seek medical attention.
“That’s why people need to immunize their pets, their cats, dogs, ferrets, but it’s not something that we traditionally see,” said Sweeney. “In fact, the infectious disease nurse at the Trumbull County Health Department has said in her career, she hasn’t seen one. So, it’s something we’re seeing a resurgence.”
Sweeney said there was a recent case where a group of people was feeding baby raccoons and they ultimately had to take preventative medical treatment for exposure to rabies.
The Youngstown Board of Health offers the following recommendations to help protect residents from the disease:
- Do not feed, touch or adopt wild animals and be cautious around stray cats and dogs.
- Teach children to leave wildlife alone and be sure that your child knows to tell you if an animal bites or scratches them.
- Have your pet cats, dogs, and ferrets vaccinated for rabies and keep their vaccinations current.
- Keep trash can lids secure.
- Open containers can attract wildlife.
- Feed pets indoors. Never leave food outdoors that can attract wildlife.
- Report any bite incidents to your local health department and call your doctor for medical advice.
If you find a dead raccoon, skunk, or fox that is not decayed or involved in a pet or human exposure, please contact your local health department. If found in the city of Youngstown, please contact the Youngstown City Health District at (330) 743 – 3333. If found in all other Mahoning County communities, contact the Mahoning County District Board of Health at (330) 270 – 2855.