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Health Departments issue advisory, warning to leave wildlife alone

Posted 25 July 2017 at 12:58 pm

By Nola Goodrich-Kresse and Kristine Voos, Genesee-Orleans Public Health Education Team

RABIES ALERT!  STOP! and THINK!  Do NOT touch!  It can kill!

Any mammal is able to get rabies, it is very important to get your pets vaccinated and not to touch or handle any stray or wild animals including bats, deer, and baby animals.

Rabies is a virus that attacks the nervous system of mammals, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. There are over 4,000 different species of mammals, all of which are vertebrates (they have a backbone or spine), are endothermic (“warm-blooded”), have hair on their bodies, and produce milk to feed their babies.  Humans are mammals.

Transmission of the rabies virus usually begins when infected saliva of a host infected with the virus is passed to an uninfected mammal.  The most common way rabies is transmitted is through the bite and virus-containing saliva of an infected host.

“The only way to know for sure if an animal or person has rabies is by testing the brain tissue,” stated Sarah Balduf, Director of Environmental Health for Genesee and Orleans counties. “Therefore, if a wild animal bites or it is determined there may have been an exposure; it will have to be put down (euthanized) to rule out rabies.”

It is illegal to possess any wild animal that naturally lives in the state. Not only do these animals have the potential to spread rabies, but they often carry parasites, ticks or may carry diseases that can be spread from animal to human.

It is important to leave wild animals alone! More times than not baby animals are not orphaned but are kept hidden while the parents can hunt for food or stay away to protect them from predators. Nature will take care of nature.

Wild animals have had to be put down because humans have interfered in their lives. Leave them alone!  For more information about young wildlife visit the Department of Environmental Conservation web site at http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/6956.html

If you are bitten or get saliva on you from an animal, (wild, stray or domesticated but not known if it has been vaccinated against rabies) it is important to wash the area carefully with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately. Report all animal bites to your county health department, even if they seem minor. If treatment is initiated promptly following a rabies exposure, rabies can be prevented. If a rabies exposure is not treated and a person develops clinical signs of rabies, the disease almost always results in death.

By avoiding contact with stray or wild animals, saving the bat/animal that may have had contact with humans/domestic animals, and reporting an incident to your local Health Department, we may be able to avoid unnecessary medical treatment that averages over $3,000 per person.

Rabies is 100% preventable!  Here are some ways to protect your families and animals.

  • Don’t feed, touch or adopt wild animals, stray dogs or cats, including the babies.
  • Be sure your pet dogs, cats and ferrets as well as horses and valuable livestock animals are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations. Vaccination protects pets if they are exposed to rabid animals.  Pets too young to be vaccinated (under 3 months old) should be kept indoors and allowed outside only under direct observation.  Keep family pets indoors at night.  Do not leave them outside unattended or let them roam free.
  • Do not 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 cap or put away garbage cans.  Board up any openings to your attic, basement, porch or garage.  Cap your chimney with screens.  Bats can get in spaces as small as the width of a pencil.
  • If nuisance wild animals are living in parts of your home, consult with a nuisance wildlife control expert about having them removed. You can find wildlife control experts, who work on a fee-for-service basis, in your telephone directory under pest control.
  • Teach children not to touch any animal they do not know and to tell an adult immediately if they are bitten by any animal.
  • If a wild animal is on your property, let it wander away. Do NOT feed it, do NOT touch it!  Bring children and pets indoors and alert neighbors who are outside.  You may contact a nuisance wildlife control expert who will remove the animal for a fee.
  • Report all animal bites or contact with wild animals to your local health department. Do NOT let any animal escape that has possibly exposed someone to rabies.  Depending on the species, it can be observed or tested for rabies in order to avoid the need for rabies treatment.  This includes bats with skin contact or found in a room with a sleeping person, unattended child, or someone with mental impairment.  Bats have small, sharp teeth and in certain circumstances people can be bitten and not know it.

For more information on rabies and a video on how to catch a bat safely and much more visit https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/zoonoses/rabies/

Upcoming FREE rabies clinics are in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming Counties:

Orleans County Clinics are held on Saturdays from 9 to 11:30 a.m.

  • August 26, Town of Shelby Highway Building, 4062 Salt Works Road, Medina
  • October 14, County Highway Building, 225 West Academy Street, Albion

Genesee County Clinics are held on Thursdays from 4 to 7 p.m.

  • August 17, Genesee County Fairgrounds, 5031 East Main Street, Batavia
  • September 21, Pembroke Highway Department, 1145 Main Road (Route 5)
  • October 19, Le Roy Village Highway Garage, 58 North Main Street

Wyoming County has a clinic scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 14, from 9:00am – 11:30am, Wyoming County Highway Department, 4328 Route 19, Rock Glen. (Registrations are not accepted the last 15 minutes.)

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