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Raccoon rabies hazard being investigated

Submitted

Fri, Jun 9th 2017 04:15 pm
Submitted by Niagara County Health Department
The Niagara County Department of Health was made aware that an individual brought a baby raccoon to Mr. Quiggleys Saloon at 635 West Ave., Lockport, on Friday, June 2. Several individuals have been reported as having handled and/or petted the animal.
Subsequent investigation by the department indicated the animal was one of 13 baby raccoons found on Donner Road in the Town of Pendleton. Twelve raccoons were put down and sampled for rabies, along with one dead baby raccoon found at the same location.
"Due to the fact these animals were handled, they had to be tested. If the raccoons were not touched, they would not have to be euthanized and tested," said Paul Dicky, director of the Environmental Health Division.
Unfortunately, the dead raccoon was deemed untestable by the laboratory and therefore is presumed to be positive for rabies.
"Determining an animal's rabies status is essential when there is contact between a potentially rabid animal and a person or pet. People that have had contact with animals presumed to be rabid require post-exposure treatment," said Daniel Stapleton, public health director.
Any individual at Mr. Quiggleys Saloon, or otherwise who had physical contact with the baby raccoon, is urged to contact the Niagara County Department of Health at 716-439-7444 to report his/her specific circumstances and the possible need for post-exposure rabies shots to prevent the potential onset of the disease.
Rabies affects the central nervous system, causing paralysis and ultimately death in infected animals. Signs of rabies virus infection in animals include changes in behavior, such as aggression, agitation and excessive salivation. It is possible for an animal to shed the virus before these symptoms are visible. This means an animal can act completely normal and healthy for a few days with an active rabies virus.
Raccoons have been documented as rabies carriers in Niagara County.
Exposure to the rabies virus is fatal. However, early treatment is 100 percent effective in preventing the disease.
"Prevention and avoidance are key when dealing with wildlife," Stapleton said.
The following tips for preventing rabies include:
•Vaccinate dogs, cats, ferrets and selected livestock for rabies, and keep vaccinations up-to-date. Contact your veterinarian today for details. You can also contact the Niagara County Department of Health for its free rabies clinic schedule, or go online at www.niagaracounty.com/health.
•Keep pets under direct supervision in a yard or on a leash to minimize contact with wild animals.
•Enjoy wildlife such as skunks, bats, raccoons and foxes from a safe distance.
•Do not handle, feed or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or pet food.
•Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick or injured animals - call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, nuisance wildlife control officer, or animal control officer for assistance.
•Teach children to never approach unfamiliar dogs, cats or wildlife, even if they appear friendly. Report animals acting strangely to your local dog or animal control officer.
•If an animal inflicts a bite or scratch, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water for 15 minutes, then call your health care provider and your local health department.
•Use caution with a pet you suspect may have been in a fight with a wild animal. Handle with gloves and contact a veterinarian and your local health department.
For more information regarding rabies, call 716-439-7444.

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