Rabid raccoon confirmed in Cherry Hill

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(Gloucester Township, NJ) – The Camden County Health Department has been notified by the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that a raccoon removed from a yard in Cherry Hill has tested positive for rabies.

On May 22, a Cherry Hill homeowner was doing yard work when he was approached by a growling racoon. After the encounter the threat from the racoon was eliminated and the township animal control officer picked-up it up for testing.

The animal was picked up by Cherry Hill Animal Control and was submitted for rabies testing at the state Public Health & Environmental Laboratories in Trenton (PHEL). There were no other human exposures, or any animal exposures observed.

The Camden County Health Department was notified by the DHSS that the animal was rabid. The homeowner began rabies post-exposure prophylaxis treatment after the exposure. The DHHS has not provided the name or address of the individual that reported the raccoon.

“Although rabies is a serious illness, it can be prevented by early treatment,” said Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez, liaison to the Camden County Health Department. “If you have been bitten or scratched by a wild animal it is important that you seek immediate medical attention.”

Rodriguez urged county residents to observe a few simple rules, including acting responsibly as a pet owner:

  • Keep vaccinations up to date for all dogs, cats, and ferrets.
  • Keep your pets under direct supervision so they do not come in contact with wild animals.  If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately.
  • Contact your local animal control agency to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood.  They may be unvaccinated and could be infected by the disease.

Rodriguez said it’s also important to avoid direct contact with unfamiliar animals:

  • Enjoy wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, and foxes from afar.  Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or liter.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. 
  • Do not try to nurse sick animals to health.  Call animal control or an animal rescue agency for assistance.
  • Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they seem friendly.
  • Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools, and other similar areas where they might come in contact with people or pets.
  • When traveling abroad, avoid direct contact with wild animals and be especially careful around dogs in developing countries.  Rabies is common in developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.  Tens of thousands of people die of rabies each year in these countries.

Rodriguez said interested residents can learn more about rabies through the internet by accessing the information available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies/ or, residents may call the Camden County Department of Health and Human Services at 856-374-6370.