A skunk found in the area of Wargo Road and Bradford Lane in Hopewell Township has tested positive for rabies.
The skunk was found in a fenced rear yard of a residence by the family’s dog the evening of March 12. The skunk was captured and submitted for testing at the New Jersey Public Health & Environmental Laboratory. The skunk’s test results provided on March 15 were positive.
“Domestic animals with known or suspected exposure must receive booster vaccinations and are placed under observation by the Hopewell Township Health Department. There are no known human exposures at this time,” Health Officer Robert English said.
According to English, rabies is a fatal viral disease that can be prevented by avoiding contact with animals that may be rabid.
“If a person has significant exposure, getting vaccinated right away can also prevent disease. Rabies can be spread from the bite of a rabid animal, or when the animal’s saliva contacts a person’s mouth, eyes or an open sore,” he said.
Rabies poses a real threat, especially to unvaccinated domestic animals.
“This incident should serve as a reminder for pet owners to ensure their animals are up-to-date with rabies vaccination. Rabies occurs throughout New Jersey, including Hopewell Township,” English said.
Bats are the animal most commonly found to have rabies. Skunks and unvaccinated domestic animals can also develop rabies.
“In Hopewell Township, approximately four animals per year have tested positive for rabies. Human rabies cases in the United States are rare,” he said.
Behavioral signs of rabid animals, wild or domestic, may include staggering, restlessness, aggression, a change of the tone of their barks or growls, or choking. Passive animals sometimes become fierce and aggressive.
“Nocturnal animals sometimes appear during the day, as occurred in this instance,” English said.
For more information on rabies, contact Animal Control at 609-537-0278 or visit www.hopwelltwp.org/171/Animal-Control.