Egg Harbor Township raccoon confirmed as county's eighth rabies case

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EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP - A raccoon collected from Patrician Terrace in Egg Harbor Township has tested positive for rabies, the eighth case of the year in Atlantic County and the fourth involving a raccoon.

The homeowner contacted the Division of Public Health after finding a dead raccoon on its property on Nov. 20. The raccoon was collected by animal control and sent to the state lab where it was confirmed positive on Nov. 27.

An investigation by the Division of Public Health identified a possible exposure with the homeowner's dog who is current with its rabies vaccination. As a precautionary measure, the dog received a rabies booster and will be closely monitored for 45 days.

Rabies is a viral disease that can be fatal if left untreated. It is most common in raccoons and bats, but has also been found in foxes, skunks, cats, groundhogs and other wildlife in New Jersey. 

Atlantic County reported its first case of rabies this year in a Buena Vista raccoon in March. Since then two domestic cats have tested positive, one in Hamilton Township and a second in Egg Harbor Township as well as bats in Galloway and Hamilton Township and raccoons in Mullica Township and Absecon.

"It is extremely important to vaccinate your pets to protect them as well as to provide a barrier to human exposure," stated County Health Officer Patricia Diamond. 

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. In addition, the Atlantic County Animal Shelter holds a free clinic each month at 240 Old Turnpike Road, Pleasantville. 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; 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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