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Raccoon Rabies Hazard Being Investigated

Author: Jacquelyn Langdon/Thursday, June 08, 2017/Categories: Health

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The Niagara County Department of Health was made aware that an individual brought a baby raccoon to Mr.
Quiggleys Saloon at 635 West Avenue, Lockport, NY on Friday, June 2, 2017. Several individuals have been
reported as having handled and/or petted the animal. Subsequent investigation by the Department indicated the
animal was one of 13 baby raccoons found on Donner Road in the Town of Pendleton. Twelve raccoons were put
down and sampled for rabies along with one dead baby raccoon found at the same location. “Due to the fact these
animals were handled, they had to be tested. If the raccoons were not touched, they would not have to be
euthanized and tested” said Paul Dicky, Director of the Environmental Health Division. Unfortunately, the dead
raccoon was deemed untestable by the laboratory and therefore is presumed to be positive for rabies.

“Determining an animal’s rabies status is essential when there is contact between a potentially-rabid animal and a
person or pet. People that have had contact with animals presumed to be rabid require post-exposure treatment”
stated Daniel Stapleton, Public Health Director. Any individual at Mr. Quiggleys Saloon or otherwise, who had
physical contact with the baby raccoon is urged to contact the Niagara County Department of Health at (716) 439-
7444 to report his/her specific circumstances and the possible need for post-exposure rabies shots to prevent the
potential onset of the disease.

Rabies affects the central nervous system causing paralysis and ultimately death in infected animals. Signs of
rabies virus infection in animals include changes in behavior such as aggression, agitation and excessive salivation.
It is possible for an animal to shed the virus before these symptoms are visible. This means an animal can act
completely normal and healthy for a few days with an active rabies virus. Raccoons have been documented as
rabies carriers in Niagara County. Exposure to the rabies virus is fatal. However, early treatment is 100% effective
in preventing the disease. “Prevention and avoidance are key when dealing with wildlife,” stressed Daniel
Stapleton, Public Health Director. For more information regarding rabies, contact (716) 439-7444.

The following tips for preventing rabies include:
• Vaccinate dogs, cats, ferrets and selected livestock for rabies and keep vaccinations up-to-date. Contact your
veterinarian today for details. You can also contact the Niagara County Department of Health for their free
rabies clinic schedule, or go online at www.niagaracounty.com/health.
• Keep pets under direct supervision in a yard or on a leash to minimize contact with wild animals.
• Enjoy wildlife such as skunks, bats, raccoons and foxes from a safe distance.
• Do not handle, feed or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or pet food.
• Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick or injured animals – call a
licensed wildlife rehabilitator, nuisance wildlife control officer, or animal control officer for assistance.
• Teach children to never approach unfamiliar dogs, cats or wildlife even if they appear friendly.
• Report animals acting strangely to your local dog or animal control officer.
• If an animal inflicts a bite or scratch, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water for 15 minutes then call
your health care provider and your local health department.
• Use caution with a pet you suspect may have been in a fight with a wild animal. Handle with gloves and
contact a veterinarian and your local health department.

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