On Monday July 2nd the animal control officer responded to a residents call regarding a sick raccoon in their yard. The raccoon was captured and transported to the Wildlife Rehabilitation facility in Titusville where it died later that day. On Tuesday, July 3rd the raccoon was submitted to the NJ State rabies lab for testing. On Thursday, July 5th a confirmation from the lab of a positive result for the rabies virus from the lab was received. The staff at the Wildlife facility was apprised of the positive results as well as the resident. According to information received there were no human or animal exposures to this animal.
The Ewing Township Health Department is issuing a rabies alert to residents since there have been two positive rabies cases from raccoons in the area recently.
In 2011 there were 257 cases of rabies identified in NJ which included: 184 raccoons, 82 skunks, 36 bats, 22 cats, 7 fox and 9 domestic rabbits. Rabies cases in humans are rare in the U.S. Most are caused by contact with bats or bites from dogs and animals received from other countries.
In NJ cats account for 90% of the domestic animal rabies cases but dogs, rabbits and other domestic pets can also become infected.
The Ewing Township Health Dept. offers the following advice:
- Pets can get rabies, so protect your dogs and cats by getting them vaccinated and licensed.
- Always keep pets on a leash when outdoors. Prevent pets from running loose so they won’t be exposed to rabies from other animals, especially at night.
- Never touch a wild animal, even if it is injured. Leave wildlife alone. Do not make pets of wild animals or try to “save” baby animals even if they seem abandoned.
- Educate children to stay away from stray animals. Do not pet stray animals even if they are freindly.
- Do not feed or handle stray cats, since cats contract rabies six times more often than dogs.
- Keep garbage cans covered with tight lids. Cap all chimneys, which raccoons often use as dens. Keep sheds and garages and other possible animal den sites in good repair.
- If bitten by any animal and if it is safe to do so, take a careful look at the animal. It is helpful for public health officials to be able to identify the animal.
- Immediately wash the animal bite and the area around it thoroughly with soap and water.
- Call your doctor or go the nearest emergency room.
All animal bites should be immediately reported to: the Ewing Health Dept. at (609) 883-2900, ext. 7691 or Police Department at (609) 882-1313 as soon as possible.