Raccoon tests positive for rabies in Spotswood


SPOTSWOOD – A raccoon tested positive for rabies in the vicinity of Burlington Avenue and Kane Avenue, according to officials from the Middlesex County Office of Health Services.

This is the third rabid animal reported within Middlesex County for 2022 and the first rabid animal in Spotswood, according to a press release through Middlesex County on Sept. 2.

On Aug. 31, a Spotswood resident found a raccoon on their property which appeared ill. The animal was picked up by an Animal Control Officer and was then taken to the New Jersey Department of Health Laboratory for testing. It was reported on Sept. 1 that the animal tested positive for rabies. There were no human or domestic animal exposures to the raccoon, according to the press release.

The Middlesex County Office of Health Services continues to monitor rabies cases within the municipality. Residents should report wild animals showing signs of unusual behavior to the police department. Additionally, it is recommended that residents should avoid contact with wild animals and immediately report any bites from wild or domestic animals to their local health departments and consult a physician as soon as possible. Finally, be sure that all family pets are up to date on their rabies vaccinations, according to the press release.

Rabies is caused by a virus which can infect all warm-blooded mammals, including man. The rabies virus is found in the saliva of a rabid animal and is transmitted by bite, or possibly by contamination of an open cut. New Jersey is enzootic for raccoon and bat variants of rabies. Bats, skunks, groundhogs, foxes, cats and dogs represent about 95% of animals diagnosed with rabies in the Unites States, according to the press release.

Rabies Prevention Guidelines

The Middlesex County Office of Health Services is advising residents to follow these guidelines to prevent rabies from being transmitted to themselves or their pets:

  1.             Immediately report a bite from a wild or domestic animal to one’s local health department. Wash animal bite wounds thoroughly with soap and water as soon as possible after the bite. Contamination of open cuts and scratches with saliva of potentially rabid animals should   also be washed off immediately. Consult a physician as soon as possible.
  2.            Immediately report any wild animals showing signs of unusual behavior. Signs of unusual animal behavior could be that the animal may:

• Move slowly.

• May act as if tame.

• Appear sick.

• Have problems swallowing.

• Have an increase in saliva.

• Have increased drooling.

• Act aggressive.

• Have difficulty moving.

• Have paralysis.

• Bite at everything if excited.

Residents should avoid any contact with the animal and call one’s local animal control officer or local police department.

3.             Be sure that all family pets are up to date on their rabies vaccination. If unsure, please call one’s veterinarian. Call local health departments for free rabies vaccination clinic availability.

4.            Animal proof home and yard. Make sure all garbage containers have tight fitting lids, do not leave pet food or water outside, do not allow rainwater to collect in outdoor containers or equipment and keep yard free of garbage and debris.

5.            Do not feed or handle wild animals.

6.            Avoid contact with stray animals or pets other than one’s own.

7.            Try to prevent pets from coming into contact with wild animals.

8.            Screen off vents to attics and other areas that could provide shelter for bats.