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COURT HOUSE - As of January 2019, there were three confirmed cases of rabies found in both domestic and wildlife animals in Cape May County.

According to a release, the first positive was a horse tested Jan. 9, in Rio Grande. The second positive was a skunk tested June 26 from Kimble’s Beach in Middle Township and the third positive was a bat tested July 31, from Seaville, which was found inside a home.

“This is a reminder to all other residents to check your pet’s vaccination and health records and make sure they are current,” stated Health Officer Kevin Thomas.

Rabies vaccination for dogs and cats offers a very high level of protection against the virus.

Rabies is a fatal disease in humans and any animal bite should be taken seriously. The rabies virus is shed in the saliva of animals that are infected with the virus.

If an animal bites, wash the wound, seek medical attention immediately, and notify the Cape May County Department of Health and the municipal animal control agency.

If exposed to a rabid or suspected rabid animal, they must receive rabies shots as soon as possible to prevent the disease.

If a pet has contact with a wild animal, contact a veterinarian and the Department of Health immediately.

“Protecting your pets by keeping them current on their rabies vaccine is an important buffer between wildlife rabies and human exposure,” stated Freeholder Jeffrey Pierson. “Not only does the vaccine keep the pet safe, but it can help keep you and your family safe as well.”

The next upcoming free rabies clinics for Cape May County are:

  • Middle Township, Sept 21, 2-3 p.m. at Middle’s Public Works Garage, 400 W. Mechanic St., Court House.
  • Upper Township, Oct. 19, 1-3 p.m. at Shore Veterinary Animal Hospital, 73 Hope Corson Road, Seaville.
  • In addition, the public can check with their local PetSmart stores for upcoming discounted vaccination clinics.

In addition to vaccinating pets for rabies, there are several precautionary measures residents can do to protect themselves and their pets: Avoid unfamiliar wildlife and domestic animals. 

Never feed or touch wild or stray animals, especially stray cats, skunks, raccoons, foxes, groundhogs or bats. According to the Center of Disease Control, bats are responsible for roughly seven in 10 rabies deaths among people who are infected with the rabies virus in the United States, possibly because people may not know of the risk bats pose.

Bats are of particular concern because their teeth are so tiny that a bite may not be felt or even leave a noticeable mark.

If a person has any physical contact with a bat or finds a bat in the room of a sleeping person or unattended child, the bat should be captured safely and submitted for rabies testing.

If the bat is not available for rabies testing, the person who came into contact with the animal should receive rabies prevention shots.

  • Keep the pet on a leash. Do not allow the pet to roam; it can come in contact with rabid wildlife.
  • Teach children that they should tell parents or guardians if they were bitten or scratched by an animal.
  • Call a  doctor and the local health department if bitten or exposed to saliva or blood of a wild or stray animal.
  • Contact a veterinarian if the pet was exposed to a bat, raccoon, skunk or other wild carnivore.

For information on animal rabies call Kittie Walton at 609 465-1210, or go to: http://www.nj.gov/health/cd/topics/rabies.shtml