MAYVILLE – The Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services are warning people to watch out for rabid animals as the summer season approaches.
Health officials saying Friday the office has received numerous reports of possible rabid acting animals in the county.
They said many of these animals may not have rabies at all but may be in the final stages of the Distemper. Raccoons are particularly susceptible and may begin to wander aimlessly in a circle, be disoriented, become unaware of its surroundings, suffer paralysis or exhibit other bizarre behavior as a result of brain damage.
Officials said many of the symptoms are indistinguishable from, and therefore often mistaken for, the signs of rabies, which can only be determined by laboratory testing.
They said Distemper is not communicable to humans, however, cats and dogs can and do contract distemper. Furthermore, having pets vaccinated against rabies and distemper is the best way to protect them.
Health officials remind residents that Rabies is communicable to humans and almost always leads to death without prompt treatment.
They released the following tips to protect yourself against rabies:
- Keep bats out of homes and other living spaces by sealing small openings and keeping unscreened doors and windows closed.
- If people or pets may have had contact with a bat, it is important to capture the bat for testing and then contact the health department to determine whether rabies exposure could have occurred and if the bat should be tested for rabies.
- Wash any animal bites and scratches immediately with soap and water and contact your health care provider immediately. Call the health department to evaluate your risk of rabies, including whether rabies post-exposure treatment is recommended.
- Keep your pet’s rabies and distemper vaccinations up-to-date.
- Do not feed wild or stray animals and discourage them from seeking food near your home.
- Keep garbage cans tightly covered and avoid storing any food, including pet food, outside.
- Do not approach or handle any unknown wild or domestic animal. Contact the Environmental Health Unit for a list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators for assistance with wildlife.
- Teach children to never approach any unfamiliar animal, even if the animal appears friendly, and to tell an adult immediately if they are bitten or scratched.
New York State law requires that all dogs, cats, and domesticated ferrets over the age of four months be vaccinated against rabies. Upcoming free rabies clinics include:
- Saturday, June 22, in the Town of Cherry Creek from 10 a.m. to noon at the Cherry Creek Fire Hall on Main Street and Southside Avenue in Cherry Creek, N.Y.
- Thursday, July 11, in the Town of Clymer from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Town of Clymer Highway Building, 8026 Route 474 in Clymer, N.Y.
- Thursday, July 25, in the Town of Ellicott from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Town of Ellicott Highway Garage on East Mosher Street (behind the high school) in Falconer, N.Y.