Thursday, February 4, 2016
The first rabies case of the year has been confirmed in a raccoon collected from the two hundred block of Steelmanville Road in Egg Harbor Township on February 1, 2016.
The homeowner discovered her dog pawing and sniffing a raccoon in her backyard. Animal control was contacted to remove the raccoon which was later sent to the state lab for testing. It was confirmed positive for rabies on February 3.
An investigation by the Atlantic County Division of Public Health has determined that the dog is current on its rabies vaccinations. However, as a precautionary measure the dog was given a booster vaccination and placed under a 45-day informal confinement.
Rabies is a viral disease that can be fatal if left untreated. Atlantic County reported eight confirmed rabies cases in 2015 that included bats, skunks, raccoons and a fox. Pet owners are advised to protect their pets with a rabies vaccination.
The Atlantic County Animal Shelter provides free rabies vaccination clinics for dogs and cats each month at 240 Old Turnpike Road in Pleasantville. The next clinic is scheduled for Sunday, February 21, 9-11 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.