Third rabid animal found in Metuchen this year

METUCHEN — A raccoon that tested positive for rabies is the third rabid animal reported in Metuchen this year, according to the Middlesex County Office of Health Services.

The raccoon was found to have rabies on Nov. 7, after the borough’s animal control officer responded to a complaint that a pet dog had killed the animal in a resident’s yard in the vicinity of Oak and Maple avenues.

The dog had a current rabies vaccination, received a booster rabies vaccination and was placed under a 45-day observation period.

No human bites or exposures have been reported. The Middlesex County Office of Health Services recommended the homeowner speak to a physician with any additional questions about the exposure, and is distributing rabies advisory flyers and fact sheets in the area.

This is the 13th rabid animal reported within the county this year.

The Middlesex County Office of Health Services urges residents to report to their local animal control officer any wild animals showing signs of unusual behavior. In addition, it is recommended that residents avoid contact with wild animals, immediately report any bites to the 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 and licenses.

The rabies virus is found in the saliva of a rabid animal, and is transmitted by a bite or possibly by contamination of an open cut. New Jersey is enzootic for raccoon and bat variants of rabies. Bats, raccoons, skunks, groundhogs, foxes, cats and dogs represent about 95 percent of animals diagnosed with rabies in the United States.

The Middlesex County Office of Health Services advises residents to adhere to the following guidelines to prevent rabies from being transmitted to themselves or their pets:

 Immediately report a bite from a wild or domestic animal to the local health department. Wash animal bite wounds thoroughly with soap and water as soon as possible after the bite. Contamination of open cuts or scratches with saliva of potentially rabid animals should also be washed off immediately. Consult a physician as soon as possible.

 Immediately report any wild animal showing signs of unusual behavior.

 Look out for unusual animal behavior such as moving slowly, acting tame, appearing sick, having problems swallowing, having an increase of saliva, having increased drooling, acting aggressive, having difficulty moving, paralysis and biting at everything if excited.

 Avoid any contact with the animal, and call the local animal control officer or local police department.

 Be sure all family pets are up to date on their rabies vaccinations. Call the health department for the availability of free vaccinations.

 Animal-proof homes and yards. Make sure all garbage containers have tight-fitting lids. Do not leave pet food or water outside, and do not allow rainwater to collect in outdoor containers or equipment. Keep the yard free of garbage and debris.

 Do not feed or handle wild animals.

 Avoid contact with stray animals.

 Try to prevent pets from coming in contact with wild animals.

 Screen off vents to attics and other areas that could provide shelter for bats.