The Niagara County Department of Health received reports last week of several groundhogs and a skunk observed acting unusually on Tonawanda Island in the City of North Tonawanda.
All of these animals died and rabies is suspected as the cause of these deaths, according to Jack R. Landrigan, supervising public health sanitarian in the county's Environmental Health Division. The only two rabid animals previously encountered in Niagara County this year have been bats.
The NCDOH Environmental Division has submitted one of the Tonawanda Island animals to the State Department of Health rabies lab in Albany for testing. Individuals who work or frequent the island should take proper precautions to prevent possible rabies exposure by avoiding encounters with any stray animals or wildlife and should report any threatening animal to the North Tonawanda Police Department at 692-4111, Landrigan said.
Rabies virus is contracted from the bite or the saliva of an animal that is rabid. Rabies is fatal if not properly treated. Any animal bite needs to be reported to the Niagara County Department of Health at 439-7444 for investigation. Further information on rabies is available on the Niagara County Department of Health website at www.niagaracounty.com/health/rabies.