MONROE (Middlesex) — The second rabies case in Middlesex County prompted a new warning to stay away from wild animals.

The county Health Department issued the warning after testing concluded that a raccoon killed by a dog in the area of Lori Street and Michelle Street on Sept. 1 tested positive by the New Jersey Department of Health Laboratory.

The dog has up-to-date rabies shots and was given a booster. One other domestic animal was exposed to the raccoon but no humans.

The case was the ninth reported in the county. Residents should avoid contact with wild animals and report any bites to humans or animals.

Rabies is caused by a virus which can infect all warm-blooded mammals, including humans. 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. Raccoon and bat variants of rabies are especially prevalent in New Jersey but it can also be found in skunks, groundhogs, foxes and cats.

The county health department shared these guidelines to prevent rabies:

1. Immediately report a bite from a wild or domestic animal to your local health department. Wash animal bite wounds thoroughly with soap and water as soon as possible. Contamination of open cuts and scratches with saliva of potentially rabid animals should also be washed off immediately.

2. Consult a physician as soon as possible.

3. Immediately report any wild animals showing signs of unusual behavior:

• Moves slowly
• May act as if tame
• Appears sick
• Has problems swallowing
• Has an increase in saliva
• Has increased drooling
• Acts aggressive
• Has difficulty moving
• Has paralysis
• Bites at everything if excited

4. Be sure that all family pets are up-to-date on their rabies vaccination.
If unsure, please call your veterinarian. Call your local health department for free rabies vaccination clinic availability.

5. Animal-proof your 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.

6. Do not feed or handle wild animals.

7. Avoid contact with stray animals or pets other than your own.

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

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

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ