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The Niagara County Department of Health confirmed a rabid raccoon near Lake Road and Phillips Road, Town of Newfane, on Thursday. A hunter was attacked by the raccoon before killing it on Nov. 7. NCDOH submitted the animal for testing to the NYSDOH Wadsworth Center, Griffon Laboratory. The hunter will coordinate with the Department of Health’s nursing division to receive post-exposure rabies prophylaxis.
Bats, raccoons, skunks and fox are all common wildlife carriers of the rabies virus. It is possible that a rabid animal can shed (share) the virus by direct contact before symptoms appear visible. A rabid animal can only be confirmed by submitting a laboratory sample.
A press release said, “Animal rabies continues to be a serious public health concern in Niagara County. Six rabid raccoons have been confirmed in 2020. Rabies is a viral disease that nearly always results in death of the animal that is not adequately protected with a rabies vaccination.”
The Department of Health would like to remind county residents of the following precautions to prevent exposure to rabies from wildlife and domestic animals:
•Do not feed, touch or adopt wild animals, stray dogs or feral cats.
•Be sure your dogs and cats are up to date on their rabies vaccinations. Vaccinated pets serve as a buffer between rabid wildlife and humans. Protect pets with rabies vaccination to reduce risk of exposure to rabies. Dogs and cats that receive their first rabies vaccine are protected for a one-year period. A dog or cat’s second and subsequent vaccination will protect from rabies for up to three years. Pets too young to be vaccinated should be kept indoors. By law, all cats, dogs and ferrets must have current rabies vaccinations from 4 months of age and on. The Department of Health will conduct free rabies clinics and post those dates on its website once all arrangements are confirmed.
•Keep family pets indoors at night. Do not leave them outside unattended or let them roam free.
•Don’t attract wild animals to your home or yard. Keep your property free of stored bird seed or other foods that may attract wild animals. Feed pets indoors. Tightly cover or put away garbage cans. Board up any openings to an attic, basement, porch or garage. Cap a chimney with screens.
•Encourage children to immediately tell adults if they are bitten by any animals. Tell children not to touch any animals they do not know.
•If a wild animal is on one’s property, let it wander away. Bring children and pets indoors and alert neighbors who are outside. One may contact a nuisance wildlife control officer who will remove the animal for a fee; or, if there is danger, one can call the local law enforcement agency.
•If a pet has been in a fight with another animal, wear gloves to handle it. Isolate it from other animals and people for several hours. Call a veterinarian. A vaccinated pet will need a booster dose of rabies vaccine within five days of the exposure. Unvaccinated animals exposed to a known or suspected rabid animal must be confined for six months or humanely euthanized.
Report all animal bites or contact with wild animals to the Niagara County Department of Health’s environmental division at 716-439-7444. Further information on rabies can be obtained from the Department of Health at 716-439-7444 or www.niagaracounty.com/health.