Thursday, August 13, 2015
Atlantic County’s fifth case of rabies has been confirmed in a bat collected from a Somers Point home on August 11. This is the fourth rabies case this year to involve a bat; the only other case involved a raccoon.
Household members found two of their three cats engaged with the bat in their Massachusetts Avenue home. The bat was trapped and promptly removed by local animal control officials. It was then sent to the state lab for testing and confirmed positive for rabies on August 12.
An investigation by the Atlantic County Division of Public Health has found that there were three possible human exposures and four potential animal exposures. Household members have been advised to consult with a physician regarding post exposure rabies treatment. The owner’s one dog and three cats will receive booster rabies vaccinations and will likely be placed under temporary confinement.
Rabies is a viral disease that can be fatal if left untreated. Pet owners are advised to protect their pets with a rabies vaccination.
The Atlantic County Animal Shelter provides a free rabies vaccination clinic each month for dogs and cats at 240 Old Turnpike Road in Pleasantville. The next clinic will be held Sunday, August 23 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 where it could come in contact with rabid wildlife.
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.
Public health officials also advise residents to teach your children to stay away from wild, stray or aggressive animals. Never feed or touch wild animals or try to keep them 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.