(Berlin Township, NJ) – The Camden County Health Department has been notified by the New Jersey Department of Health and Human Services (NJDHHS) that a cat at an animal hospital has tested positive for rabies.
On November 27, a foster cat passed away at an animal hospital after a brief illness. The overseeing veterinarian then arranged rabies testing at the state Public Health & Environmental Laboratories in Trenton (PHEL).
On December 2, the Camden County Department of Health and Human Services was notified by PHEL that the animal was rabid. After speaking with the foster care provider, it was revealed that four family pets were exposed to the cat as well as two potential human exposures. No bites or scratches from the cat were reported.
The Animal Control Officer associated with Berlin Township, the veterinarians, the foster care provider, and the two others potentially exposed were notified. The exposed individuals were urged to speak to their physicians regarding post-exposure prophylaxis treatment for rabies. The Health Department received proof of vaccination for the 4 family pets. The pets will receive a rabies booster shot and will be under confinement and observation for 4 months.
“Rabies is a serious illness but luckily, it can be prevented by early treatment,” said Commissioner Carmen Rodriguez, liaison to the Camden County Health Department. “In the event that you are scratched or bitten by a wild animal, please seek immediate 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.