Ocean County Residents Concerned With Rabies
The Ocean County Health Department continues to warn residents against handling, feeding or providing assistance to stray or any unknown animals. There has been an increase in rabies activity in the northern section of Ocean County, especially among raccoons. There were also three rabid feral cats captured and euthanized.
Freeholder Deputy Director Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Health Department, stated, "Anyone that finds a wild or homeless animal acting strangely should avoid contact with the animal and notify the local animal control officer, describing the animal and its location. Residents can call local police or municipal clerks to get the phone number of that specific community's animal control officer. Animals acting strangely could possibly have rabies."
Ella Boyd, VMD, Ocean County Health Department Public Health Coordinator, said that rabies is a year-round concern in Ocean County. Boyd states, "Rabies is a virus that is present mainly in the saliva of rabid animals. In Ocean County, it is most prevalent in raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats although rabies has also been detected in feral cats. Any contact with a bat is considered an exposure to rabies. Seek medical advice if a bat flies into or otherwise touches your skin" "
Leslie Terjesen, Ocean County Health Department Public Information Officer, points out the importance of getting your family pets vaccinated against rabies. "Even if your pets do not go outdoors, it might accidently get out the door unexpectedly or a rabid animal could gain entrance into your home," stated Terjesen.
Other tips from the Ocean County Health Department on limiting family and pet exposure to rabies are:
· Animal-proof your house and yard. Make sure all garbage is stored in animal-resistant containers.
· Screen off vents to attics and other areas that could provide shelter for bats.
· Vaccinate your cat or dog against rabies. Unvaccinated animals can contract rabies from wild animals and transmit the infection to humans. There are safe and effective vaccines to protect dogs, cats, horse, cattle and sheep against the disease.
Dr. Boyd offers this advice if you are bitten by an animal:
· Learn as much as you an about the animal. If the animal is with an owner, get the owner's name and address. If it's a stray or wild animal, try to remember the location where you last saw the animal and any identifying features on the animal for the animal control officer to use in tracking it later. If possible and without danger to you and others, try capturing and confining the animal.
· Wash your wound immediately with plenty of soap and water.
· Contact your physician, health care provider or hospital emergency department for wound care and consultation regarding the need for rabies preventative treatment.