Dryden, N.Y. — Local health officials got a tip after they had raised the alarm about several kids seen poking a rabid bat in Dryden on June 30.

A woman called to say that she had seen several young children in Montgomery Park who appeared to fit the age descriptions of those who had been seen poking the bat with sticks. Maybe, officials thought, this would finally lead them to the kids they were worried about.

They were to be disappointed. Health officials got the address of the kids, and knocked on their door, but were told by the parents that their children never went to the park unattended.

The children seen poking the bat had been playing alone. Officials were backed to where they started: Still searching for the elusive children.

Essentially no new leads have been generated since. Without any new information to pursue, the “active search” for the kids was called off in mid-July.

“It’s frustrating and unfortunate,” said Adriel Shea, of the Tompkins County Health Department. “Presently, we’re not actively looking any longer because with all the press releases we were putting out there, we weren’t getting anything back.”

The search began when officials reported that three children were seen poking a bat they found in Montgomery Park with sticks. The bat later tested positive for rabies.

Rabies is an intense virus that can be fatal once it attacks the central nervous system, striking hard and fast, Clayton Maybee, public health sanitarian for the Tompkins County Health Department, previously said.

“Once you come down with symptoms, it’s fatal,” Maybee said in a previous article. “You’ll have pains in different parts of the body, and it ultimately will paralyze muscles in the throat so you can’t swallow.”

Patients normally take at least 31 days after exposure to begin showing symptoms, so a lack of news about the children does not mean they are safe, Shea told The Ithaca Voice in a previous story.

“We’re talking 1 month to 3 months, so it can be quite some time,” Shea said.

So while there’s no guarantee the kids are okay, absent other information there’s simply nothing more health officials can do right now, according to officials.

Shea made a point of thanking the Dryden Police Department for doing all it could to find the kids.

The Dryden community, he said, was impressive in its attention to the issue and support for its neighbors.

“We’re not actively pursuing it anymore,” Shea said, “But we still encourage anybody to call us if they have any idea or if they have some concerns.”

Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.