“A total of 10 rabid animals have been discovered and captured throughout Ocean County during 2012,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little, Liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health. He added, “This is certainly a reminder to residents to beware of stray animals and to make sure their pets are up to date on their rabies vaccinations.”
Jennifer Crawford, Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) Supervisor of Communicable Diseases, said, “Rabies is a year-round concern in Ocean County. 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 and can be carried in groundhogs. In addition, the OCHD has received in the past few years, reports of rabid feral cats in different areas of Ocean County. During 2012, there have been 10 reported animals, which include 6 raccoons, one skunk, two groundhogs and one fox. These animals were captured in Lacey Township, Lakewood, Manchester, Plumsted, and Tuckerton.”
Daniel E. Regenye, OCHD Public Health Coordinator, adds, “Any strange-acting animal could have rabies. Anyone that finds a wild or homeless animal acting strangely or aggressively should avoid contact with the animal and notify the local animal control officer or local police department, describing the animal and its location. You can find the telephone number of your local animal control officer on the Ocean County Health Department website at www.ochd.org, under RESOURCES or call the Health Department at 732-341-9700, ext. 7515.
Leslie Terjesen, OCHD Public Information Officer, again reminds the importance of getting your family pets vaccinated against rabies. She said, “Even if your pets do not go outdoors, it could accidently get out the door and come in contact with a rabid animal.” 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, horses, cattle and sheepep against the disease.
Terjesen offers this advice if you are bitten by an animal:
• Learn as much as you can about the animal. If the animal is with its owner, get the owner’s name and address. If it is 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.
• 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.
• Report the incident to the Ocean County Health Department at 732-341-9700, ext. 7515.
Free rabies vaccinations are available almost every Wednesday by appointment at the Ocean County Animal Facilities. For information on these or other free rabies vaccination opportunities for your pets, please call the Ocean County Health Department at 732-341-9700, ext. 7515 or visit the OCHD website “Events Calendar” at www.ochd.org.
For additional information on rabies, please visit the Ocean County Health Department website at www.ochd.org.