The Niagara County Department of Health confirmed a rabid fox on College Avenue in the City of Niagara Falls on Monday.
A homeowner noticed contact between their two dogs and the injured fox. The owner will have the two vaccinated dogs receive precautionary rabies booster shots.
The Health Department’s nursing division will determine if the property owner may have had incidental contact with the rabies virus that would warrant rabies post-exposure treatment.
NCDOH stated, “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.
“Animal rabies continues to be a serious public health concern in Niagara County. Rabies is a viral disease that nearly always results in death of the animal that is not adequately protected with a rabies vaccination.”
The NCDOH reminds 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 dogs and cats are up to date on their rabies vaccinations. Vaccinated pets serve as a buffer between rabid wildlife and human. 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 four months of age and on. The NCDOH will conduct free rabies clinics in 2022, and will post those dates on its website once the schedule is finalized.
•Keep family pets indoors at night. Do not leave them outside unattended or let them roam free.
•Don’t attract wild animals to a home or yard. Keep properties 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 attics, basements, porches and garages. Cap chimneys 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 that are outside. One may contact a nuisance wildlife control officer who will remove the animal for a fee; or if there is danger, call a 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.
•Bat rabies continues to be of particular concern. Niagara County residents must remain aware of the risk for rabies from any contact with a bat. Once illness occurs, rabies is almost always fatal. However, timely and complete post-exposure treatment is effective at preventing illness from occurring.
If one finds a bat in their home, it is important not to injure, release or discard it. Immediately contact the NCDOH environmental health division at 716-439-7444 to discuss the specifics of the situation or occurrence. For more information on bat rabies, to include instruction on proper capturing and containment of a bat for testing, go to https://www.niagaracounty.com/health/Services/Environmental-Health/Pest-Control/Bats.
•Report all animal bites or contact with wild animals to the NCDOH environmental division at 716-439-7444. Further information on rabies can be obtained from the department at 716-439-7444 or www.niagaracounty.com/health.