The Camden County Health Department has been notified by the New Jersey Department of Health and Human Services (NJDHHS) that a groundhog removed from a yard in Cherry Hill has tested positive for rabies.
On May 31, a groundhog was killed by a family dog in the backyard of a Cherry Hill home. The Animal Control Officer (ACO) for Cherry Hill picked up the groundhog and arranged for rabies testing at the state Public Health & Environmental Laboratories in Trenton.
There are no known additional animal or human exposures to this groundhog.
On June 3, the Camden County Department of Health and Human Services was notified by PHEL that the animal was rabid.
The ACO associated with Cherry Hill and the pet owners were notified. The Department was provided proof of vaccination for the dog, it received a rabies booster shot and will be under confinement and observation for 45 days.
“Rabies is a serious illness, but it can be prevented with early treatment,” said Commissioner Carmen Rodriguez, liaison to the Camden County Health Department. “So if you have been bitten or scratched by a wild animal it is imperative that you seek immediate medical attention.”
Rodriguez urged county residents to observe 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.
Rodriguez said interested residents can learn more about rabies through the internet by accessing the information available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies/ or, residents may call the Camden County Department of Health and Human Services at 856-374-6370.