Skunk found in EHT tests positive for rabies

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A rabid skunk was recently collected from a property on Betsy Scull Road in Egg Harbor Township, making it the first confirmed case of rabies in Atlantic County this year.

The homeowner contacted the local animal control officer after a dog she was pet-sitting encountered a skunk in the backyard and killed it. The skunk was sent to the state lab for testing and was confirmed positive for rabies.

An investigation by the Division of Public Health determined that the dog was 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 skunks, foxes, cats, groundhogs and other wildlife in New Jersey.

Atlantic County reported eight positive rabies cases last year. There were four raccoons, two bats and two cats.

Residents who find a wild or stray animal on their property are advised to leave it alone until an animal control officer, police officer or other responder arrives on the scene to capture or remove it.

“Thankfully, this dog was current with its rabies vaccination,” stated Atlantic County Public Health Officer Patricia Diamond. “It is extremely important to vaccinate your pets to protect them as well as to provide a barrier to human exposure.”

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. The next clinic will be held 10 a.m.-noon Sunday, March 30. Dogs must be on leashes and cats in carriers. For information call 609-485-2345 or see www.aclink.org/animalshelter.

Dogs and cats that 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 3 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 all pets on a leash when outdoors. Do not allow a 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, see www.aclink.org/publichealth or call 609-645-5971.


 

Read more:

Free rabies clinic March 15 for Egg Harbor Township residents


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