Submitted by the Niagara County Department of Health
The Niagara County Department of Health (NCDOH) confirmed a rabid bat on Porter Avenue, City of North Tonawanda, on July 3. Three domestic cats came in contact with a bat that tested positive for rabies. As a result of the incident, the cats received required rabies booster vaccines and must quarantine for a time prescribed in the New York State Sanitary Code.
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 Niagara County 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 your 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 Niagara County Department of Health conducts free rabies clinics. The dates are posted on our website as clinics established.
√ 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 your attic, basement, porch or garage. Cap your 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 your property, let it wander away. Bring children and pets indoors and alert neighbors who are outside. You may contact a nuisance wildlife control officer who will remove the animal for a fee; or if there is danger, you can call your local law enforcement agency.
√ If your 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 your veterinarian. Your 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 you find a bat in your 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/departments/a-f/environmental_health/pest_control/bats.php.
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 NCDOH at 716-439-7444 or www.niagaracounty.com/health.