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The number of rabid raccoons found in Niagara County in recent months has risen to 21 with the discovery last week of a rabid raccoon in Newfane, the Niagara County Health Department said Monday.

Environmental Health Director James J. Devald said this was the first case of rabies this year in Newfane and it indicates a spread of the current rabies problem in Niagara County.

Devald said he expected that the discovery of rabid animals "will become a common occurrence in the weeks and months to come."

The Health Department recommended that all dogs, cats and farm animals be vaccinated against rabies and that dogs and cats be confined at home or walked on leashes.

All animal bites and contact with suspected rabid animals should be reported to the Health Department, Devald said.

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