Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Atlantic County health officials are once again reminding residents of the importance of protecting their pets with a rabies vaccination after reporting the first confirmed case of rabies in Atlantic County this year in an Egg Harbor Township cat with an undetermined vaccination history.
The cat had been missing from its Asbury Road property for a few days before returning home on Memorial Day weekend with severe wounds of unknown origin, according to an investigation by the Atlantic County Division of Public Health. The cat was treated by two veterinary hospitals and was then released to its owners for continued care.
The cat died on July 2 and was sent to the state lab for testing where it was confirmed positive for rabies on July 7. Its two owners are currently receiving rabies post exposure treatment and the household’s other pets (two cats and a dog), which are not believed to have been exposed, are receiving rabies boosters.
Rabies is a viral disease that can be fatal if left untreated. Pet owners are advised to protect their pets with a rabies vaccination. According to data from the New Jersey Department of Health, since 1989 cats have accounted for 85 percent of domestic rabies cases in the state. Over the past five years an average of 19 cats a year have been infected with rabies.
Atlantic County had a total of 10 rabies cases last year involving 4 raccoons, 3 cats, 2 bats and a skunk.
The Atlantic County Animal Shelter provides a free rabies vaccination clinic for dogs and cats once a month at 240 Old Turnpike Road in Pleasantville. The next clinic will be held on Saturday, July 15, 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 four to six months strict confinement.
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.