A bat removed from a home in Berlin Township on Sept. 14 has tested positive for rabies. The family has been advised to seek rabies prophylaxis.
A Berlin Township family became aware of a bat in their residence and subsequently killed the animal on the night of Sept. 14. The Camden County Communicable Disease Unit submitted the bat to the NJDHSS laboratory in Trenton for rabies testing. On Sept. 19, the Camden County Health Department was notified by the NJDHSS that the animal was rabid.
“Although rabies is a serious illness, it can be prevented by early treatment,” said Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez, liaison to the Camden County Health Department. “If you have been bitten or scratched by a wild animal it is important that you seek immediate medical attention.”
The family has been notified, and the family members exposed to the bat have been advised to seek rabies prophylaxis. The family’s dog and three cats have been seen by a veterinarian.
“Never release bats that have come in contact with your family,” Rodriguez said. “All bats found in households with human or pet exposure should be captured and submitted for rabies examination. Bats may be submitted alive if they have been properly contained.”
Rodriguez urged county residents protect themselves, their families, and their pets from rabies by observing a few simple rules, including acting responsibly as a pet owner:
Keep vaccinations up to date for all dogs, cats, and ferrets.
Keep your pets under direct supervision so they do not come in contact with wild animals. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately.
Contact your local animal control agency to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood. They may be unvaccinated and could be infected by the disease.
Rodriguez said it’s also important to avoid direct contact with unfamiliar animals:
Enjoy wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, and foxes from afar. Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or liter.
Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. Call animal control or an animal rescue agency for assistance.
Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they seem friendly.
Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools, and other similar areas where they might come in contact with people or pets.
When traveling abroad, avoid direct contact with wild animals and be especially careful around dogs in developing countries. Rabies is common in developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Tens of thousands of people die of rabies each year in these countries.