Middlesex County health officials issue rabies alert

The Middlesex County Office of Health Services is reporting that a skunk tested positive for rabies in South River, Middlesex County, in the vicinity of Hillside Ave and Ford St.

This is the sixth rabid animal reported in the county for 2017 and the first one in South River. 

On Sunday, July 23rd, 2017, a skunk was found acting erratically in the yard of a resident of Hillside Ave.

The skunk was euthanized by police, retrieved by animal control and was sent to the New Jersey Department of Health Laboratory for testing.

It was reported on Wednesday, July 26th, 2017, that the animal tested positive for rabies.

There are no human exposures and no domestic animal exposures to the skunk. Additionally, Middlesex County Office of Health Services’ Registered Environmental Health Specialists will be distributing rabies fact sheets within the area.

The Middlesex County Office of Health Services continues to monitor rabies cases within the municipality. Residents should report wild animals showing signs of unusual behavior to the Police Department.

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.

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 bite, or possibly by contamination of an open cut.

New Jersey is enzootic for raccoon and bat variants of rabies. That means the disease is constantly present among the animal population, but usually only affects a small number of them at any one time.

Bats, skunks, groundhogs, foxes, cats and dogs represent about 95% of animals diagnosed with rabies in the Unites States.

Rabies Prevention Guidelines
The Middlesex County of Health Services is advising residents to follow these guidelines in order to prevent rabies from being transmitted to themselves of 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 and 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 animals showing signs of unusual behavior.

Signs on unusual animal behavior could be that the animal may:
• Move slowly
• May act as if tame
• Appear sick
• Have problems swallowing
• Have and increase in 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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