Several pit bull puppies may have been exposed to a rabid pit bull in Monmouth County.

The Monmouth County Health Department is looking for anyone who had contact with pit bull puppies in the Cliffwood section of Aberdeen within the past three weeks. Monmouth County Public Health Coordinator Christopher Merkel said the puppies were exposed to an adult dog diagnosed with rabies who did not have a current rabies vaccination.

“Four adult dogs and one puppy have been removed from the residence and put in quarantine,” Merkel said. “Two of the dogs are lactating, which indicates that they may have been nursing puppies very recently. If that is the case, the puppies may have been exposed to rabies carried by the now deceased, rabid dog.”

Three people have been identified by the MCHD as being bitten by the dog, and a fourth as having come into close contact. All four are receiving treatment from their own health care provider.

Merkel said the five dogs removed from the residence will remain in supervised quarantine with the local animal control for six months.

"This is the time period necessary to determine if those dogs have contracted rabies as well," Merkel said.

He also said the incident should serve as a reminder to other residents to check their pets' vaccinations and health records, to make sure they are current.

“Rabies vaccination of dogs and cats offers a very high level of protection against the virus," he said.

New Jersey state law requires dog owners to provide proof of a current rabies vaccination in order to be issued a dog license and tags.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. The early symptoms of rabies in people are similar to that of many other illnesses, including fever, headache and general weakness or discomfort. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation (increase in saliva), difficulty swallowing and hydrophobia (fear of water).

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