The Erie County Department of Health has announced that two animals on Grand Island tested positive for rabies.
On two occasions, July 23 and 30, bats on the Island were found to have rabies.
The Erie County Department of Health will coordinate a wildlife vaccination program for rabies using airdrops to deliver vaccinated bait from Aug. 20 until Aug. 29.
According to the ECDOH, this program is a team effort for the County, Cornell University’s Animal Health Diagnostic Center, the New York State Department of Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services. This program will deliver an estimated 407,100 rabies vaccine baits in Erie and Niagara County this month.
Five fixed-wing aircraft will distribute bait to rural areas, weather permitting, between Aug. 20-23. Helicopters are used to distribute bait in suburban towns and villages and in open areas of the City of Buffalo from Aug. 24-29. This schedule will depend on the weather. In densely populated urban areas, ECDOH Division of Environmental Health Rabies Disease and Vector Control staff will distribute baits by hand between Aug. 24 and 28.
“When you see aircraft circling your neighborhood, or see our Vector Control program staff leaving bait packets, know that they are part of a county-wide effort to protect against rabies, which is a fatal but preventable disease,” said Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein. “This bait delivers the rabies vaccine to raccoons, foxes and skunks in their natural habitat. In New York state, these animals, along with bats, are presumed to carry the rabies virus.”
“Using aircraft to reach rural and suburban areas of the county, and ground distribution within the city of Buffalo, is part of our aggressive and effective program to vaccinate wildlife, especially raccoons, against rabies,” said Senior Public Health Sanitarian Peter Tripi. “We want to reduce the risk that humans and domestic pets will come into contact with a rabid wild animal.”
The ECDOH asks resident to not baits. Most baits are eaten within four days; almost all baits will be gone within a week. If baits are not found and eaten, they will harmlessly dissolve and exposed vaccine will become inactivated. If a resident must move bait, the ECDOH advised wearing gloves or using a plastic bag or paper towel to pick it up. Place any damaged baits in the trash; throw intact baits into a wooded area or other raccoon/wildlife habitat.
Residents should wash hands immediately if they come into direct contact with the vaccine or bait, then call the New York State Department of Health Rabies Information Line at 1-888-574-6656.
“We have reports of individuals who leave food out for feral cats, birds and squirrels in their neighborhoods,” continued Tripi. “By doing so, they are attracting wild animals that can increase the likelihood of an encounter with humans and pets.”
Erie County residents who feed a feral cat are considered to be its owner, and are responsible for that cat’s care and rabies vaccination. Rabies vaccinations are required by law for all dogs, indoor and outdoor cats, and ferrets ages three months and older. Free rabies vaccination clinics are scheduled on Sept. 11 at ECC South, Sept. 18 at ECC North and Sept. 25 at the Cheektowaga Highway Garage.