Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Atlantic County health officials are reminding residents about the importance of protecting their pets with a rabies vaccination following the confirmation of the second case of rabies in the county this year found in a bat collected from a residence in the 100 block of West Reading Avenue in Pleasantville.
Animal Control was called to the property on June 21 after an occupant found the bat in a bedroom. The bat was captured and sent to the state lab for testing where it was confirmed positive for rabies on June 24.
An investigation by the Atlantic County Division of Public Health identified one potential human exposure and several animal exposures. The individual was advised to consult with a physician about post-exposure rabies treatment. One dog that was currently vaccinated was placed under a 45-day informal confinement as a precautionary measure. Another dog and cat were placed under a four-month informal confinement due to incomplete vaccination records.
This year’s previous positive case involved a raccoon found in the 500 block of Delaware Avenue in Absecon in March. In 2018, Atlantic County had a total of three rabies cases involving two raccoons and a bat.
Rabies is a viral disease that can be fatal if left untreated. Pet owners are advised to protect their pets with a rabies vaccination which also helps protect their loved ones.
“By keeping your pets up to date with their rabies vaccination, you can help prevent them from acquiring the disease from wildlife and transmitting it to your family members,” noted Atlantic County Public Health Officer Patricia Diamond.
Diamond also advised residents to call animal control to remove stray animals from their properties that may be ill or unvaccinated.
The Atlantic County Animal Shelter provides a free rabies vaccination clinic for dogs and cats once a month at 240 Old Turnpike Road in Pleasantville. The next clinic will be held on Sunday, July 14 from 9 AM to 11 AM. Dogs must be brought on leashes and cats in carriers. For more information call (609) 485-2345 or visit www.aclink.org/animalshelter.
Dogs and cats who receive an initial rabies vaccination are not considered immunized until 28 days after the vaccine has been administered, therefore it is strongly recommended that any animal newly vaccinated or those too young to receive the vaccine (less than three months) not be left outdoors unattended. Situations have arisen where pet owners have left unvaccinated or newly vaccinated pets outdoors where they have sustained exposures to known or suspect rabid animals, resulting in euthanasia or four to six months strict confinement.
Public health officials also advise residents to teach your children to stay away from wild, stray or aggressive animals. Never feed or touch wild animals or try to keep them as pets. If you are bitten by an animal, wash the wound immediately with soap and water and seek medical attention. All bites should be reported to the Atlantic County Division of Public Health at (609) 645-5971.
In regards to bats, caution should be used to avoid direct contact, even with apparently healthy bats. Unusual behavior, such as a bat fluttering on the floor, or a bat flying in midday, is reason for particular care to avoid all human or animal contact with the bat.
For more information about rabies control and precautions to protect your family and your pets, please visit the county web site at www.aclink.org/publichealth or call (609) 645-5971.