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Niagara County Department of Health Reports First Rabies Case of 2020

Author: Jacquelyn Langdon/Thursday, January 9, 2020/Categories: Health

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The Niagara County Department of Health has been notified that a red fox submitted for rabies testing from Seaman Road in the Town of Hartland was confirmed positive for rabies. This is the first rabid animal confirmed in the County in 2020. The red fox was found dead by a trapper who reported to have skinned the animal.  The fox carcass was subsequently collected by the USDA and shipped for testing as part of routine surveillance.  Associate Supervisory Sanitarian, Scott Ecker stated “The specimen was properly stored by USDA enabling them to submit the sample for accurate testing.  Generally, at ambient temperatures, the rabies virus is only viable for a short period of time after death of the infected animal.”  The trapper was evaluated by the Niagara County Nursing Division to assess the exposure scenario and evaluate whether any post-exposure treatment was necessary. 

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 man. Protect them, and you may reduce your risk of exposure to rabies. Dogs and cats that receive rabies vaccine after three months of age are protected for a one-year period. Revaccinations are effective for up to three years with proof of previous vaccination. Pets too young to be vaccinated should be kept indoors. The Niagara County Department of Health will conduct free rabies clinics in 2020 and will post those dates on our 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 your home or yard. Keep your property free of stored bird seed or other foods which 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 that 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 destroyed.

Report all animal bites or contact with wild animals to the Niagara County Department of Health Environmental Division at 439-7444 or 439-7430 after hours.  Further information on rabies can be obtained from the Niagara County Department of Health at 439-7444 or www.niagaracounty/health.com    

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