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February 10, 2015

Raccoons killed in S.J. test positive for rabies

Raccoons killed by family pets last week in Haddon Township and South Camden have tested positive for rabies, the Camden County Health Department said.

In the latest incident, a raccoon was killed by a family dog on Feb. 3 in Haddon Township. The dog is current with its rabies vaccinations and received a rabies booster from its veterinarian. In addition, state regulations dictate that the dog be confined and observed for 45 days from the date of the incident.

On Feb. 1, a family dog killed a raccoon in the yard of the South Camden home. The dog, which was not up-to-date with its rabies vaccinations, received the required shots from its veterinarian. It will be confined and observed for six months from the date of the incident.

In both cases, a municipal animal control officer was notified, and the raccoons were tested for rabies at the New Jersey Public Health & Environmental Laboratories in Trenton.

The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services did not provide the name or address of either family.

Rabies, according to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is a preventable disease that affects the central nervous system, eventually attacking the brain and causing death.

Camden County Health Department officials gave the public — particularly dog owners — some safety rules regarding rabies: 

  1. Keep vaccinations up to date for all dogs, cats, and ferrets.
  2. Keep your pets under direct supervision so they do not come in contact with wild animals. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately.
  3. Contact your local animal control agency to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood. They may be unvaccinated and could be infected by the disease.

In addition, avoiding contact with unfamiliar animals can prevent the spread of rabies.

  1. Enjoy wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, and foxes from afar. Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter.
  2. Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. Call animal control or an animal rescue agency for assistance.
  3. Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they seem friendly.
  4. Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools, and other similar areas where they might come in contact with people or pets.
  5. When traveling abroad, avoid direct contact with wild animals and be especially careful around dogs in developing countries. Rabies is common in developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Tens of thousands of people die of rabies each year in these countries.

Folks can access more information about rabies at the CDC's website.

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