GO Health Urges Responsible Contact with Wildlife and Strays

With the arrival of spring, the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) are encouraging residents not to touch wildlife – including baby animals. Touching wildlife disrupts their natural behavior as well as poses risks to both human safety and animal welfare. During the spring months, many baby animals are born, and it can be common to encounter these animals. However, it is important to remember that wild animals should be left alone. Baby animals, while cute and seemingly harmless, can carry diseases such as rabies. Rabies, a viral infection, is spread by direct contact with saliva through cuts on the skin or mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, or eyes. Rabies is mostly seen in wildlife, including raccoons, bats, and skunks. It is essential to remember to keep a safe distance and admire wildlife and stray animals from afar.

In 2023, Genesee County investigated 191 animal bite and rabies incidents, and Orleans County investigated 137. Genesee County submitted 31 animal specimens, and 1 tested positive for rabies. Orleans County submitted 20 specimens, and 1 tested positive for rabies. Both positive tests were raccoons.

“If you come in contact with animals, including baby animals and strays, avoid touching them and call animal control. If you handle a wild or a stray animal, or are bitten by one, immediately call the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments,” stated Darren Brodie, Environmental Health Director for GO Health. “In the event that you are bitten by an animal, you should clean the wound with soap and water and get medical help right away.”  

GO Health recommends the following guidance when encountering wildlife or stray animals:

  • Observe from a distance and avoid contact

Love your own, leave the rest alone. Observing wildlife from a distance decreases the risk of disease transmission. By avoiding physical contact, you are keeping yourself, your family, and your pets safe.

  • Report concerns

If you come in contact with a wild or stray animal, touch a wild or stray animal, or are bitten by a wild or stray animal, immediately seek medical attention and contact the Genesee or Orleans County Health Departments. If you encounter distressed wildlife, or wildlife is showing signs of rabies, immediately contact your local animal control agency. Signs of rabies in an animal may include aggression, excessive drool or saliva, confusion, hair loss, and loss of movement or function.

Residents are encouraged to take note of our upcoming drive-thru rabies vaccination clinics for dogs, cats, and ferrets in Genesee and Orleans Counties that are offered at no charge.

Genesee County Rabies Clinics at the Genesee County Fairgrounds (5056 East Main Street, Batavia, NY 14020)

  • Thursday, May 16, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 8, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, October 10, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Orleans County Rabies Clinics at the Orleans County Fairgrounds (12690 State Route 31, Albion, NY 14411)

  • Wednesday, June 5, from 4:00 to 6:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, August 10, from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Saturday, October 19, from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m.

For more information on GO Health’s programs and services, visit GOHealthNY.org. You can also contact your respective health department:

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