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First 2009 rabies case reported in Salem County

by Today's Sunbeam Thursday March 12, 2009, 4:59 PM

CARNEYS POINT TWP. -- The Salem County Health Department is warning residents against attempting to provide assistance to stray animals that may seem distressed or are acting strangely, as the county has seen its first positive rabies case for 2009.

Salem County Public Health Coordinator Herb Roeschke said the health department received results that showed a raccoon has tested positive for rabies after an incident that occurred here on March 6.

A resident reported that a distressed raccoon was found on her property. The raccoon had no contact with the resident's pets but was acting strangely. The incident ended in the death of the raccoon, health officials said. The raccoon was tested for rabies, which came back positive.

There was no exposure to humans or other pets.

Rabies is a fatal disease that can affect humans and animals. There are many ways to keep your home, family, and pets safe from rabies.

You can protect your pets by monitoring their outdoor activities and keeping their rabies vaccination up to date. You can protect yourself and loved ones by avoiding contact with wildlife.

Animals that act strangely must be avoided, even if a wild animal is overly friendly. This may be a sign of rabies. And remember to report any unusual activity by raccoons, skunks, bats, foxes, cattle, horses or domestic animals to your local animal control officer.

The Salem County Health Department is currently holding free rabies clinics. The next one will be held April 4 from 1 to 2 p.m. at the Mannington Public Works Garage.

“The best way to prevent and control rabies is to vaccinate your pets,” said Roeschke.

County residents are encouraged to get their pets vaccinated against rabies if they have not done so already.

“I encourage all residents to consider using the free rabies clinic,” said Freeholder Dale Cross, chair of the County Health and Social Services Committee. “Rabies is something that can affect the entire community and this clinic is another way in which we are being proactive to protect our residents.”

Residents do not have to live in the township in which the clinic is held. Owners seeking a three-year vaccination must show proof of prior vaccination and it cannot be expired longer than six months. Cats must be brought to the clinic in a carrying case, box or pillowcase. Dogs must be in a cage or on a leash. Outside cats and dogs are at a high risk for contact and it is encouraged that they attend the free clinic.

The municipality and the county health department are not responsible for animals that get away.


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