A skunk collected from the 6800-block of Weymouth Road in the Township of Hamilton Sept. 5 has been confirmed as Atlantic County’s eighth rabies case of the year.
The homeowners found the skunk on their property and called Wildlife Aid to remove it. It was sent to the state lab for testing where it was confirmed positive for rabies on Sept. 8.
An investigation by the Atlantic County Division of Public Health found three dogs, three cats and two goats on the property may have been exposed to the skunk. The dogs and cats were up-to-date with their rabies vaccinations and were placed on a 45-day informal confinement, with a recommendation for the pets to receive a rabies vaccine booster. The state Department of Agriculture was contacted about the goats.
This is the second skunk to be confirmed for rabies. Rabies was also previously found in three raccoons, two bats and a cat.
Rabies is fatal if left untreated. It can be transmitted through direct contact with saliva through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth.
Public health officials advise residents to teach 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 see wildlife that is behaving strangely, especially nocturnal animals such as skunks and raccoons found during daylight hours, do not approach the animal. Instead, call your local animal control officer. Contact information is available on the county web site at: www.aclink.org/animal-shelter/municipal.asp
Residents should ensure trash cans have secure lids to prevent wildlife from foraging for food and not leave pet food outside. Many animals are also attracted to bird seed.
Most human cases of rabies are the result of a bite from an infected animal. 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.
A rabies vaccination is recommended for domestic animals to not only protect the pet but also the pet owner and family members who could contract rabies from an infected pet.
The Atlantic County Animal Shelter provides free rabies vaccination clinics for both dogs and cats by appointment only at www.aclink.org/animal-shelter. The next clinic will be held 9 a.m. to noon Sunday, Sept. 10 at 240 Old Turnpike in Pleasantville.
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.