(Gloucester Township, NJ) – The Camden County Health Department has been notified by the New Jersey Department of Health and Human Services (NJDHHS) that a skunk removed from Cherry Hill yard has tested positive for rabies.
On March 24, a Cherry Hill resident observed a skunk that was acting erratically. The animal control officer for Cherry Hill picked up the skunk and transported it to the Blackwood Animal Hospital where it was prepped for submission for rabies testing at the New Jersey Public Health & Environmental Laboratories (PHEL) in Trenton.
On March 29, 2017, the Camden County Health Department was notified by PHEL that the animal was rabid. The NJDHHS has not provided the name or address of the individual that reported the skunk. No other human or animal exposure was reported.
“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.