North Tonawanda, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- Over the past week, the Niagara County Department of Health received reports of several groundhogs and a skunk observed acting unusual on Tonawanda Island in the City of North Tonawanda.
The NCDOH later learned all of these animals had died and suspect rabies as the cause of these deaths. The only two rabid animals previously encountered in Niagara County this year have been bats.
The NCDOH Environmental Division has submitted one of the Tonawanda Island animals to the New York State Department of Health rabies lab in Albany for testing and expects to receive results over the weekend.
Individuals who work or frequent the Island should take proper precautions to prevent possible rabies exposure by avoiding encounters with any stray animals or wildlife and should report any threatening animal to the North Tonawanda Police Department at (716) 692-4111.
Rabies virus is contracted from the bite or the saliva of an animal that is rabid. Rabies is fatal if not properly treated. Any animal bite needs to be reported to the Niagara County Department of Health at 716-439-7444 for investigation.
Further information on rabies is available on the Niagara County Department of Health website at www.niagaracounty.com/health/rabies .