Dangerous rabid raccoons on the rise in Ocean County, NJ
The rabid raccoon population in Point Pleasant Borough has spread to neighboring Point Pleasant Beach, according to police in both municipalities.
Point Pleasant Borough was first to report a possible rabies epidemic on Wednesday. Point Pleasant Borough police Chief Robert Lokerson on Thursday afternoon told New Jersey 101.5 there were nine rabid raccoons all over his borough.
Animal control officer “Muskat Jack” Neary told NJ.com he started getting calls about raccoons walking down the middle of the street erratically and screeching loudly which are two symptoms of rabies. There have not been any reported attacks on residents he was bit while capturing one and is being treated, Neary told NJ.com.
Point Pleasant Beach police on Thursday warned of a "higher than normal incidents of rabies positive raccoons" throughout the borough. Police warned that any mammal including dogs, cats, small wildlife and humans can be infected by a bite from a rabid animal.
The Ocean County Health Department has been monitoring the situation with both communities.
"If any residents have any concerns about seeing animals that are acting out of character or seeing nocturnal animals during the day or being lethargic or aggressive contact law enforcement. Don't approach them," Health Department spokesman Dan Regenye told New Jersey 101.5.
Rabies is andemic and a part of the population so cases are not unusual, according to Regenye. It's also the reason pet owners are encouraged to get their pets vaccinated against rabies.
"It just gets transmitted. It's the nature of wildlife in their daily activity engaging with other wildlife," Regenye said
A rabid fox bit a 4-year-old girl in her Jackson backyard in June. In May a rabid fox attacked three people and chased two others in Vineland.
Some guidelines from the Middlesex County Department of Health about rabies:
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.
Consult a physician as soon as possible.
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 aggressively
- Has difficulty moving
- Has paralysis
- Bites at everything if excited
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.
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 yards free of garbage and debris.
Do not feed or handle wild animals.
Avoid contact with stray animals or pets other than your own.
Try to prevent your pets from coming into contact with wild animals.
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