More wildlife test positive in Ocean County

For the second time in a month, wildlife in Ocean County has turned up positive for rabies. Two raccoons tested positive after more than a dozen raccoons were captured by animal control over the last week. Additional animals from that group are being tested with results still pending.

“The OCHD wants to remind people to stay away from any wildlife that may appear to be sick or acting strangely,” said Daniel Regenye, OCHD Public Health Coordinator/Health Officer. “It’s so important to remain vigilant especially in the warmer months when the potential for wildlife interactions with humans increase. It can be tempting to try and help a wildanimal that may appear in distress, injured – or even uncommonly friendly. However, a person should always contactanimal control or the police and never approach a wild animal demonstrating those signs.”

During spring and summer mammals may prefer to build their den’s or shelters close to our homes, playgrounds, schools and neighborhoods. And while there is still no cure for rabies, the good news is that human infection is extremely rare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that there are typically only about 1 to 3 cases of rabies documented in humans each year. The NJ Department of Health (NJDOH) estimates that approximately 2,500 people in New Jersey receive rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), due to exposure to known or suspect rabid animals.

While any mammal can contract rabies, 2 of the most commoncarriers in Ocean County in the past have been bats and raccoons. Back in mid-June, a fox from Jackson tested positive after demonstrating aggressive behavior and bit a resident. Last year in Ocean County there were 2 cases of animals that tested positive for rabies. Both of those animals were raccoons.

“Not only do we have to protect ourselves from rabies, we need to protect our pets and to insure they are up-to-date with theirrabies inoculations,” added Ocean County Commissioner Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health. “The Ocean County Animal Facilities holds free rabies clinics every other Wednesday by appointment only. Due to the pandemic many people may have skipped getting their pet vaccinated but if they did now is definitely a good time to make an appointment.”

The Northern Ocean County Animal Facility is located at 615 Freemont Avenue in Jackson. To make a rabies vaccine appointment please call 732-657-8086. The Southern Ocean County Animal Facility is located at 360 Haywood Road in Manahawkin. The number is 609-978-0127.

The animal facilities are open 7 days a week for adoptions, reclaims and surrenders by appointment only.

Keep in mind some of the following tips outlined below you can use in an effort to protect and limit your family and pets from those unwanted wildlife interactions and any potential rabies exposure:

• 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 and squirrels.
• Vaccinate your cat or dog against rabies. Unvaccinated pets can contract rabies from wildlife and can transfer the disease to humans. These are safe and effective vaccines to protect our personal pets such as dogs, cats and horses and farm animals like cattle, sheep and many others.
• Never try to pet or approach a wild animal – even if it appears curious or friendly.
What to do if you are bitten by an animal:

• Try and learn as much as you can about the animal. If it’s a known pet with a tag, contact the owner. If it’s a stray or wild animal, try to remember the last location you saw the animal and any distinguishing features or behavior that may be able to assist animal control officers in identifying and capturing the animal.
• Wash your wound immediately with plenty of soap and water.
• Contact your healthcare provider or hospital emergency department for care and consultation regarding the need for rabies preventative treatment.
• Report the incident to the OCHD at 732-341-9700 ext. 7515.

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