Rabies, Rats/Rodents, Vectors, Arboviruses and Related Information

Rabies, Disease & Vector Control Program

The Rabies, Disease & Vector Control Program is part the Erie County Department of Health Environmental Health Division. This program is responsible for enforcement, education and other disease prevention activities including:

  • Investigating domestic animal bites & scratches and wildlife encounters between people and/or their pets.
  • Investigating complaints about rodent infestations.  Improperly stored garbage, junk and debris, improper bird and wildlife feeding and dog feces not cleaned up and disposed of properly create places for rodents to live and attract potentially dangerous nuisance wildlife
  • Investigating complaints about standing water, improperly maintained swimming pools and other man made containers that hold water and create mosquito  Batbreeding areas. 

Rabies

Rabies is a fatal but preventable viral disease. It can spread to people and pets if they are bitten or scratched by a rabid animal. The rabies virus infects the central nervous system. If a person does not receive the appropriate medical care after a potential rabies exposure, the virus can cause disease in the brain, ultimately resulting in death. Rabies can be prevented by vaccinating pets, staying away from wildlife, and seeking medical care after potential exposures before symptoms start.

Animal Bites, Scratches and Wildlife Encounters

Bat Encounters

If you find a bat in your house, DO NOT let the bat get outside. Call the ECDOH immediately at (716) 961-6800; after business hours call (716) 961-7898. Follow the steps below to capture the bat so that the ECDOH can test it for rabies.

  • How to Capture a Bat:
    • If professional help is not available, capture the bat safely as described below or watch this video on how to safely catch a bat . You will need leather or
      very thick work gloves (put them on), a small box or coffee can, a piece of cardboard, and tape. 
    • When the bat lands, move slowly toward it.
    • While wearing the gloves, put the box or coffee can over the bat.
    • Then, slide the cardboard under the container to trap the bat inside.
    • Tape the cardboard to the container, and punch small holes in the cardboard, allowing the bat to breathe.

Rabies Vaccination Clinics and Pet Health

Rabies in Erie County

Rodent (Rat) Control

ECDOH responds to service requests regarding rodent infestations for properties that are four (4) unit residences or less which are not part of an apartment complex or commercial property. We conduct investigations of complaints such as, but not limited to, properties that have rodent infestations, improperly stored garbage, junk & debris, improper bird and wildlife feeding, dog feces not cleaned up and disposed of properly. These are conditions that create rodent harborage and attract potentially dangerous nuisance wildlife.  Baiting service (extermination) is provided free of charge.  Rat

Arbovirus Prevention (Ticks, Mosquitoes, etc)

Arbovirus are viruses transmitted by bloodsucking arthropods such as mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. ECDOH conducts investigations of complaints such as standing water, improperly maintained swimming pools and other man-made containers that hold water and create mosquito breading areas. Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes & West Nile Virus (WNV)

West Nile Virus (WNV) is spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes bite during the day and night. There is no vaccine to prevent WNV infection. The best way to prevent ­­­West Nile is to protect yourself from mosquito bites. Use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, treat clothing and gear, and take steps to control mosquitoes indoors and outdoors.

Ticks & Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection which is spread by a bite from an infected blacklegged tick, which is also known as a deer tick.

Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks.  Laboratory testing is helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods.

Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics.

Steps to prevent Lyme disease include using insect repellent, removing ticks right away, applying pesticides, and reducing tick habitat. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can sometimes spread other tickborne diseases as well.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

I found a dead animal, such as a rat, on my property. Can the Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) come out and pick it up?

  • The ECDOH does not come out to your property to remove dead animals.  It is acceptable to pick up a dead animal, such as a rat, with a shovel or gloved hand, put it in a bag and then put in in your regular trash container.

There’s a wildlife animal (skunk, raccoon or other animal) on my property. Can the Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) come out and remove it?

  • The ECDOH does not offer wildlife trapping services. 
  • If an animal is not leaving, and is acting dangerous or aggressive, and you need immediate help, contact your City, Town or Village to request assistance from the Animal Control Officer or a Police Officer. 
  • If an animal is living on your property and won’t leave, you may need to hire a nuisance wildlife trapper.   A list of licensed Wildlife Control Officers is available here or you may call the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation at 716-851-7000.  
  • See Tips to Eliminate Wildlife Conflicts for best practices for landowners with problems with unwanted animals.
  • See Remove or "Take" Nuisance Animals Legally to find out if you need a permit or license to legally trap or shoot an animal on your own.
  • NOTE about rodent/rat problems:
    • The ECDOH responds to complaints about rodent infestations for properties that are four (4) unit residences or less which are not part of an apartment complex or commercial property.  
    • Complete the Rodent Service Request & Complaint Form or call (716) 961-6800.    

I have bed bugs, cockroaches, spiders or other insects/pests in my home. Can the Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) come out and exterminate them?

  • The ECDOH does not make inspections to identify or exterminate any type of insects or other pests involved in an infestation. 
  • If extermination is needed, occupants or property owners should hire a licensed professional exterminator, also known as a Pesticide Applicator, to identify the cause of an infestation and determine the best way to get rid of the problem. See the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Certified Pesticide Applicators to search for licensed professionals near you.
  • Erie County operates a Rodent Control Program for Erie County residents and property owners in 1, 2, 3 and 4 unit properties. The program provides inspection and extermination service for rodents only.  
  • Additional Information: 

There are bed bugs, cockroaches or other insects/pests where I work. Can the Health Department make my employer exterminate?

  • The ECDOH does not have jurisdiction over workplace environments. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the regulatory agency for workplace environments. 
  • See OSHA’s laws and regulations for information regarding infestations in the workplace.  You can also file a complaint with OSHA or call 1-800-321-6742.

I have bed bugs, cockroaches or other insects/pests in my apartment and my landlord says I’m responsible for exterminating. Is that true?

  • The answer to this question depends on how many dwelling units or apartments there are in the building where you live.
  • In a single family dwelling, the occupant is responsible for extermination of that dwelling.
  • In a multiple dwelling with two or more apartments, the owner is responsible for exterminating.  The owner is responsible for maintaining the building in good repair and sound condition and in a reasonably rat-proof and insect proof condition.
  • See the Erie County Sanitary Code for the Responsibility of Owners and Occupants
  • 1.14 Responsibility for extermination. Every occupant of a dwelling containing a single dwelling unit shall be responsible for the extermination of any insects, rodents or other pests therein or on the premises. Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section, whenever infestation is caused by failure of the owner to maintain a dwelling in a rat-proof or reasonable insect-proof condition, extermination shall be the responsibility of the owner. Whenever infestation exists in two or more of the dwelling units in any dwelling, or in the shared or public parts of a dwelling containing two or more units, extermination thereof shall be the responsibility of the owner.
  • Erie County operates a Rodent Control Program for Erie County residents and property owners in 1, 2, 3 and 4 unit properties. The program provides inspection and extermination service for rodents only.

Contact

Division of Environmental Health
ECDOH Building
503 Kensington Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14214 
Map of Campus
Phone: 716-961-6800 (For Emergencies after regular business hours: 716-961-7898)
Fax: 716-961-6880