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.

Image/edbo 23 via pixabay
Image/edbo 23 via pixabay

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.

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.

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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.

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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.