Rabid fox reported in the Falls

·3 min read

May 23—An injured fox recently found on College Avenue in the Falls has been confirmed rabid, according to the Niagara County Department of Health.

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.

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.

Bats, raccoons, skunks, and fox are all common wildlife carriers of the rabies virus, according to the health department. 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.

The Niagara County Department of Health is reminding 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 human. 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 four months of age and on. 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

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.

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