In a follow-up report on a feral cat that tested positive for rabies in Starkville, Mississippi, health officials reported Friday that the type of rabies confirmed came from a bat.

Exposures to the rabid cat were first reported in downtown Starkville. The cat was then removed from the downtown area and dropped off in a remote area in the general vicinity of the Thad Cochran Research Park near the campus of Mississippi State University (MSU) where additional exposures occurred.

Further testing of the cat’s brain tissue confirmed that the cat was infected with rabies from a bat. Additionally, lab results of other animals found near the rabid cat were rabies-negative.

“We regularly identify bats with rabies in Mississippi, so these results tell us that the cat became infected after contact with an infected bat rather than contact with another animal,” said Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. “However, this serves as a reminder to never touch or handle bats, and if you do have exposure to a bat, contact your local healthcare provider and your provider can contact the Mississippi State Department of Health for consultation.”

This is the first rabies case confirmed in a land animal in Mississippi since 1961.