Atlantic County Confirms First Rabies Case

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Atlantic County health officials advise residents to vaccinate pets and avoid contact with wild animals as they report the first confirmed case of rabies in Atlantic County in 2009. There were 18 confirmed cases of rabies in Atlantic County in 2008.

The case involved a raccoon that was found at a residence in Galloway Township in the area of Sixth Avenue and Upland Avenue engaged in an altercation with the family dog. An investigation by health officials indicated that there were no human exposures.

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An Animal Control Officer was contacted and the raccoon was collected from the property on May 2 and sent for testing at the New Jersey State Department of Health Laboratory. Test results were confirmed on May 5. The dog had been scratched on the mouth by the raccoon, but fortunately was current with its rabies vaccination. Health officials placed the dog on 45 day informal confinement and recommended that the animal receive a rabies booster shot.

Rabies is present in wildlife throughout Atlantic County and is most commonly found in raccoons, but has also been found in bats, skunks, foxes, groundhogs, ferrets and dogs.

“If you come in contact with a wild animal you should always take the proper precautions. Rabid animals may behave friendly towards humans, even though they are infected,” warned Health Officer Patricia Diamond.

She added that residents should always avoid exposure to rabies by never feeding or touching wild animals or trying to keep these animals as pets. Also, seek immediate medical attention if you have been bitten by an animal or exposed through a scratch or contact with an animal’s saliva.

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