Officials from the Niagara County Department of Health Environmental Health Division reported Tuesday a cat that attacked a woman walking her dog on July 13 on Demler Road in Wheatfield/North Tonawanda tested positive for rabies. The woman, who sustained multiple bites and scratches, is undergoing treatment to prevent rabies infection. The cat was euthanized.
The cat was the first positive case of rabies in a domesticated animal since 2010, and tested positive on the same day as a bat from Hartland and a raccoon from Niagara Falls. In total, seven animals (five raccoons, a bat and a cat) have tested positive for the rabies virus in 2016: two in Niagara Falls, one in Wheatfield, one in Youngstown, one in Royalton and two in Hartland.
"Avoid contact with all stray domestic animals and wildlife," Public Health Director Daniel Stapleton said. "Do not feed or touch them. Do not feed your pets outside. Cover your garbage cans with tight-fitting lids. I cannot emphasize this enough. Stray and wild animals can carry dangerous diseases, as well as cause serious injuries." Stapleton advised residents to report any animals exhibiting strange or sickly behavior to a local law enforcement agency or contact the Environmental Health Division at 439-7444.
"Take your animals and children inside when possible or keep them at a safe distance from any oddly behaving animals. Assure your animals are up-to-date with their rabies vaccinations," he said.
"You can protect yourself with the pets and children you love by taking commonsense actions such as vaccinating your pets and preventing contact with stray animals and wildlife," Stapleton added.
The Niagara County Department of Health Environmental Division offers free rabies vaccination clinics throughout the year. The next clinic is scheduled from 9-11 a.m. Sept. 17, at the Town of Lockport Highway Department, 6560 Dysinger Road, Lockport.