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Niagara County reports first case of rabies for 2020

Officials say a red fox found by a trapper on Seaman Road in the Town of Hartland was submitted for rabies testing and tested positive.

LOCKPORT, N.Y. — The Niagara County Department of health is reporting a case of rabies.  The first for 2020.

Officials say a red fox found by a trapper on Seaman Road in the Town of Hartland was submitted for rabies testing and tested positive. 

The fox was skinned by the trapper, and the carcass was collected by the USDA and tested as part of routine surveillance.

“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,” said Associate Supervisory Sanitarian, Scott Ecker.

The trapper was evaluated by health officials to access exposure and any necessary treatment if needed.

The Niagara County Department of Health offers these tips to avoid rabies exposure:

  • 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. Re-vaccinations 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.

If you are bitten by an animal or have been in contact with any wild animals, you should contact the Niagara County Department of Health Environmental Division at 439-7444 or 439-7430 after hours.  More information on rabies can be found on the Niagara County Department of Health's website: www.niagaracounty/health.com    

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