Cat Tests Positive for Rabies in Newstead; Incident Reinforces Importance of Having Pet Dogs & Cats Vaccinated (6/6/2014)

 

MEDIA RELEASE

 From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein

 Date June 6, 2014                       

CONTACT: Mary C. St. Mary/Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov

Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925

 Cat Tests Positive for Rabies in Newstead

Incident Reinforces Importance of Having Pet Dogs & Cats Vaccinated

ERIE COUNTY, NY—The Erie County Department of Health (“ECDOH”) recently investigated the case of an ill cat, discovered by children on the side of Cedar Road in Newstead. The cat was transported to the SPCA Serving Erie County where it died soon after.  Subsequent testing indicated the cat tested positive for rabies. 

“This is the first documented incident of a cat having rabies in Erie County since 2008” stated Peter Tripi, ECDOH Senior Public Health Sanitarian. “One of our rabies sanitarians interviewed the nearest neighbors on Cedar Road to ensure no one else was exposed to this animal. We were unable to ascertain if the cat was a stray or someone’s pet. Erie County residents are advised to not feed stray cats and wild life so they are not attracted to their properties, as well as not to approach or handle these animals.”

To date in 2014, ten rabid animals have been identified by the ECDOH. They include bats, raccoons, foxes and skunks in addition to the cat noted previously. In Erie County, the animals were located in Aurora, Buffalo, Eden, Kenmore, Lancaster, North Collins, and Newstead. One of the animals was a rabid skunk at the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation in Irving that was investigated by the ECDOH.  In 2013, a total of 35 rabid animals were identified.

“Unusual behavior may be the first sign of rabies in an animal. A rabid animal may become either abnormally aggressive or unusually tame. It may lose fear of people and become excited and irritable, or, conversely appear particularly passive and lethargic. Staggering and frothing at the mouth are sometimes noted” said Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein.

“I cannot stress how important it is to vaccinate your pet dogs and cats from rabies as that will also protect you and your family from this fatal disease” concluded Burstein.

During the two free rabies clinics held by the ECDOH in May, 1,672 animals were vaccinated against rabies, bringing the total 2014 year-to-date figure to 2,081 animals vaccinated.  Residents whose pets do not have a current immunization against rabies are strongly encouraged to get them vaccinated as soon as possible to ensure the safety of both their pets and family. The next ECDOH free rabies vaccination clinics will be held in September, 2014 (locations & dates listed below).

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz added: “Pet owners should also remember that the law requires all dogs and cats in Erie County to get vaccinated against rabies. My thanks go out to the Department of Health and their partners for providing this vital public health service to residents. The free rabies clinics are a valuable service to our residents and a great way to protect both our pets and family members.”

Should you suspect an animal is rabid, get yourself, family members and your pets to a safe location. Contact the ECDOH’s Division of Environmental Health at 716-961-6800.

Here are the dates for the free rabies clinics in September:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014, 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Erie Community College-North Campus, 6205 Main Street, Noonan Center - Maintenance Garage, Amherst

Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Springville Fire Company, 405 W. Main St., Springville

Wednesday, September 24, 2014, 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM

West Seneca Highway Garage, 39 South Ave. (off Union near NYS 400), West Seneca 

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For more information:

Erie County Department of Health – http://www2.erie.gov/health/index.php?q=rabies-information

New York Department of Health -- http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/zoonoses/rabies/