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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Rabies Confirmed in Northfield Bat

A bat collected from a property on Cove Avenue in Northfield has been confirmed for rabies as reported by the Atlantic County Division of Public Health.

According to the property owner, the bat was discovered on June 3 in the back yard by the owner’s three dogs. It was removed and sent to the state lab for testing where the results were confirmed on June 5.

It is unclear whether the dogs had killed the bat or found it dead. Fortunately all of the dogs were current on their rabies vaccinations. As a precaution they each received a booster vaccination on June 6.

“This is another example of the importance of vaccinating your pets against rabies,” stated Patricia Diamond, Atlantic County Public Health Officer. “Rabies is a viral disease that can be fatal if left untreated. We strongly encourage residents with pets to take advantage of our free rabies vaccination clinics.”

The Atlantic County Animal Shelter provides a free rabies vaccination clinic each month for dogs and cats. The next one will be held on Sunday, June 28 from 9 AM to 11 AM at 240 Old Turnpike Road in Pleasantville. Dogs must be brought on leashes and cats in carriers. For more information call (609) 485-2345 or visit www.aclink.org/animalshelter.

This is the county’s second rabies case of 2015. Both cases have involved bats.

Rabies is most common in raccoons and bats, but has also been found in skunks, foxes, cats, groundhogs and other wildlife in New Jersey. According to the American Humane Society, rabies is most prevalent along the East Coast from Florida to Maine.

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. Residents may check with their local municipality for the date and location of their annual rabies vaccination clinic or attend one of the county’s free monthly clinics.

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.

For more information about rabies control and precautions to protect your family and your pets, please visit the county Web site at www.aclink.org/publichealth or call 609-645-5971.

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