Friday, September 5, 2014
Atlantic County health officials strongly encourage residents to vaccinate their pets to protect them from contracting and spreading rabies following the county’s ninth confirmed case and the third case within the last two weeks.
The most recent case involved a raccoon that was collected from a property on Shadeland Avenue in Pleasantville. The homeowner discovered the lethargic raccoon in the yard with his dog. The animal control officer was called to remove the raccoon. The animal was sent to the state lab for testing where it was confirmed positive for the viral disease on September 5, 2014.
An investigation by the Division of Public Health has determined that there were no human exposures. The homeowner’s dog was current with its rabies vaccination but as a precaution, it will receive a booster vaccination and be placed under a 45-day observation period.
Prior 2014 rabies cases have involved a bat, a fox, two skunks and four raccoons.
Rabies is a viral disease that can be fatal if left untreated. Residents who find a wild or stray animal on their property should leave it alone until an animal control officer, police officer or other responder arrives on the scene to capture and/or remove it.
Public health officials recommend the following steps to protect your family and pets from rabies:
* Make sure your dog or cat's rabies vaccination is current. The Atlantic County Animal Shelter holds a free clinic each month at 240 Old Turnpike Road, Pleasantville. The next clinic will be held on Sunday, September 21 from 9 AM to 11 AM. Dogs must be brought on leashes and cats in carriers. For more information, call (609) 485-2345 or visit www.aclink.org/animalshelter.
* Dogs and cats who receive an initial rabies vaccination are not considered immunized until 28 days after the vaccine has been administered, therefore it is strongly recommended that any animal newly vaccinated or those too young to receive the vaccine (less than three months) not be left outdoors unattended. Situations have arisen where pet owners have left unvaccinated or newly vaccinated pets outdoors where they have sustained exposures to known or suspect rabid animals, resulting in euthanasia or six months strict confinement. Keep your pet on a leash. Do not allow your pet to roam; it can come in contact with rabid wildlife.
* Teach your children to stay away from wild, stray or aggressive animals.
* Never feed or touch wild animals, especially bats, skunks, raccoons, foxes, or groundhogs. Do not try to keep these animals as pets.
* If you are bitten by an animal, wash the wound immediately with soap and water and seek medical attention.
* Report all animal bites to the Atlantic County Division of Public Health at 609-645-5971.