NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ--The county government announced that a raccoon found in the city's Fifth Ward tested positive for rabies, the first rabid animal found in New Brunswick this year.
"On Saturday, September 17, 2016, the Animal Control Officer for New Brunswick responded to a call concerning a raccoon that was found to be acting strangely in the vicinity of Laurel Place and Somerset Street," reads the announcement from the Middlesex County Office of Health Services.
According to the statement, the raccoon was sent to the New Jersey State Department of Health Laboratory for testing and it tested positive for rabies on September 21.
"There are no known human or animal exposures to the raccoon," read the announcement, which was paired with the alert about a bat found in Plainsboro that also tested positive.
"There was one person who was exposed to the bat and they were notified by the Middlesex County Office of Health Services to speak to their physician regarding their exposure," read the statement."
"Rabies is caused by a virus which can infect all warm-blooded mammals, including man," says the county office, adding that the virus "is found in the saliva of a rabid animal and is transmitted by a bite, or possibly by contamination of an open cut."
According to the statement, bats, raccoons, skunks, groundhogs, foxes, cats, and dogs represent about 95% of animals diagnosed with rabies in the country.
The Office of Health Services stressed the following "guidelines" be followed to help avoid people or their pets contracting the disease:
The rabid raccoon was the 19th rabid animal reported in the county in 2016, and the rabid bat was the 20th of the year.
Authorities said that residents should report wild animals showing signs of unusual behavior to their local police department.
"Additionally, it is recommended that residents should avoid contact with wild animals and immediately report any bites from wild or domestic animals to their local health department and consult a physician as soon as possible."
Signs of unusual animal behavior could include animals that:
According to the county, residents should "avoid any contact with the animal and call your local animal control officer or local police department."
Additional tips included:
If you are unsure whether your pet needs a vaccination, the county encourages you to "please call your veterinarian."
"Call your local health department for free rabies vaccination clinic availability," reads the statement.