HELMETTA – The Middlesex County Public Health Department is reporting that a raccoon tested positive for rabies in Helmetta, in the vicinity of Railroad Avenue and John Place.
This is the eighth rabid animal reported within Middlesex County for 2010 and the first rabid animal reported in the municipality of Helmetta.
On May 12, the Helmetta Animal Control Officer responded to a report that a raccoon was observed in a resident’s backyard. The resident reported that the raccoon fought with and was subsequently killed by the resident’s pet dog. The raccoon was sent to the New Jersey State Department of Health Laboratory for testing and it was reported Friday that the animal tested positive for rabies.
The resident’s pet dog was up to date on its rabies vaccination. As a precaution, the Middlesex County Public Health Department advised the owners to consult with a veterinarian to receive a booster vaccination and to place the dog under a 45-day observation period. The owner of the dog was also advised to speak to a physician regarding exposure to the animal. Additionally, the department is distributing rabies advisory flyers and fact sheets in the area.
The Middlesex County Public Health Department continues to monitor rabies cases within the County. Residents should report wild animals showing signs of unusual behavior to their local Animal Control Officer. Additionally, it is recommended that residents should avoid contact with wild animals and immediately report any bites from wild or domestic animals to your local health department and consult a physician as soon as possible. Finally, be sure that all family pets are up to date on their rabies vaccinations and licenses.
Rabies is caused by a virus which can infect all warm-blooded mammals, including man. The rabies virus is found in the saliva of a rabid animal and is transmitted by a bite, or possibly by contamination of an open cut. New Jersey is enzootic for raccoon and bat variants of rabies. Bats, raccoons, skunks, groundhogs, foxes, cats, and dogs represent about 95% of animals diagnosed with rabies in the United States.
Rabies Prevention Guidelines
The Middlesex County Public Health Department is advising residents to follow these guidelines in order to prevent rabies from being transmitted to themselves or their pets:
1. Immediately report a bite from a wild or domestic animal to your local health department. Wash animal bite wounds thoroughly with soap and water as soon as possible after the bite. Contamination of open cuts or scratches with saliva of potentially rabid animals should also be washed off immediately. Consult a physician as soon as possible.
2. Immediately report any wild animal showing signs of unusual behavior. Signs of unusual animal behavior could be that the animal may:
- move slowly
- may act as if it is tame
- appear sick
- have problems swallowing
- have an increase of saliva
- have increased drooling
- act aggressive
- have difficulty moving
- have paralysis
- bite at everything if excited
Residents should avoid any contact with the animal and call your local animal control officer or local police department.
3. Be sure that all family pets are up to date on their rabies vaccination. If unsure please call your veterinarian. Call your local health department for free rabies vaccination clinic availability.
4. Animal-proof your home and yard. Make sure all garbage containers have tight fitting lids, do not leave pet food or water outside, do not allow rainwater to collect in outdoor containers or equipment and keep yard free of garbage and debris.
5. Do not feed or handle wild animals.
6. Avoid contact with stray animals or pets other than your own.
7. Try to prevent your pets from coming into contact with wild animals.
8. Screen off vents to attics and other areas that could provide shelter for bats.
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