(Gloucester Township, NJ) – The Camden County Health Department has been notified by the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that a cat caught in Chesilhurst has tested positive for rabies.
On March 8, a resident saw a sick cat on the side of the road and called animal control who picked up the cat and brought it to a local vet. The animal shelter arranged for rabies testing at the state Public Health & Environmental Laboratories in Trenton (PHEL). On March 15, the Camden County Department of Health and Human Services was notified by PHEL that the animal was rabid.
There are four potential human exposures to the cat. These people were notified and were directed to their physicians to discuss rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Our department explained the dangers of rabies to the Chesilhurst resident.
“Although rabies is a serious illness, it can be prevented by early treatment,” said Commissioner Virginia Betteridge, 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.”
Betteridge 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.
Betteridge said it is 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.
More information is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/