A fourth case of rabies in Atlantic County this year was confirmed last week when a raccoon that attacked a neighborhood cat in Egg Harbor Township tested positive for rabies, prompting public health officials to advise residents to stay away from wild, stray or aggressive animals.

The Department of Public Health released this press advisory Friday, Dec. 14

A raccoon collected from an Egg Harbor Township property has tested positive for rabies according to the Atlantic County Division of Public Health. This is the fourth case of rabies reported in the county this year.

An Asbury Avenue homeowner heard his dog barking at something in the back yard and discovered a raccoon attacking a neighborhood outdoor cat. The cat was rescued and taken for treatment but was euthanized due to the severity of its wounds. The raccoon was sent to the state lab for testing where it was confirmed positive for rabies on December 12.

Atlantic County’s previous three rabies cases involved two raccoons, one in Northfield and another in Egg Harbor Township, and a bat collected in Pleasantville.

Rabies is a viral disease that can be fatal if left untreated. Pet owners are advised to protect their pets with a rabies vaccination.

“Rabies vaccinations are the best protection for our pets,” stated Patricia Diamond, Public Health Officer. “We encourage our residents to take advantage of the free rabies vaccination clinics at the Atlantic County Animal Shelter.”

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. Report all animal bites to the Atlantic County Division of Public Health at 609-645-5971.

For more information about rabies control and precautions to protect your family and your pets, please visit the county web site at aclink.org/publichealth or call 609-645-5971.

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