(Toms River) – Heading into the Labor Day weekend many people are looking forward to spending time enjoying the outdoors with friends and family. However, the Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) is encouraging residents to remain vigilant of any potential wildlife encounters that can turn dangerous. It’s not uncommon for Ocean County to have a small number of animals test positive for rabies annually and so far in 2022 seven cases have been reported.
The rabies virus infects the central nervous system of mammals, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. The vast majority of rabies cases reported each year occur in wild animals like bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes, although any mammal can get rabies. Additionally, there is no cure for rabies.
“Living in Ocean County most neighborhoods are shared with an assortment of spectacular wildlife,” said Daniel Regenye, Ocean County Health Department Public Health Coordinator/Health Officer. “However, residents should enjoy them from a safe distance and to keep a look out for animals demonstrating unusual behavior. These animals are typically very shy of humans so for them to approach an adult, child or family pet appearing sick, wounded – and even friendly or tame – would be uncommon behavior and a possible sign of rabies. That’s why we encourage parents discuss these important signs with their children.”
Additional signs to look for in a rabid animal:
The CDC reported that there are typically only about 1 to 3 cases of rabies documented in humans each year. The NJ Department of Health (NJDOH) estimates that approximately 2,500 people in New Jersey receive rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), due to exposure to known or suspect rabid animals.
Residents are advised to keep in mind the following tips to protect and limit your family and pets from those unwanted wildlife interactions and any potential rabies exposure:
What to do if you are bitten by an animal:
Regenye added, “It’s something most people don’t necessarily think about while enjoying the outdoors, but a rabid animal can turn up when you least expect it so it’s best to know what to look for and how to keep you and your family safe.”
To make an appointment to have your pet receive a free rabies shot contact the Northern Ocean County Animal Facility in Jackson at 732-657-8086. You may also make an appointment at the Southern Ocean County Animal Facility in Manahawkin. The number is 609-978-0127.
For more information regarding rabies please visit www.ochd.org or www.state.nj.us. You can also follow the Ocean County Health Department on Twitter@OCpublichealth or like us on Facebook. Download the Ocean County Health Department mobile app free from the Google Play/Android and Apple APP stores.