An aggressive raccoon was collected by Hopewell Township Animal Control on Sunday May 9 after biting a resident in the vicinity of Hopewell-Pennington Road, near the Hopewell Veterinary Group, according to Hopewell Township. The animal was submitted for testing at the New Jersey Public Health & Environmental Laboratory and test results provided to Township Health Officer Dawn Marling on May 11 were positive. The resident immediately received post-exposure medical care and vaccination. Potentially exposed domestic animals on the property were re- vaccinated and will remain under observation by the Township.
The Health Department is asking any resident or pet owner in the area that may have had an encounter with this raccoon, or any other animal behaving unusually, to immediately notify the Township. Animal Control can be reached during business hours (M-F: 8:30am – 4:30pm) at (609) 537-0278 and on evenings and weekends through the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (609) 737-3100.
Rabies is a fatal viral disease that can be prevented by avoiding contact with animals that may be rabid. Rabies poses a real threat, especially to unvaccinated domestic animals. This incident should serve as a reminder for pet owners to ensure their animals are up-to-date with rabies vaccination. Pet owners are reminded not to allow their pets to run at-large, which can put them at risk of encountering rabid wildlife.
Raccoons, skunks, coyotes, and unvaccinated cats and dogs are among the animals that can also develop rabies. Behavioral signs of rabid animals, wild or domestic, may include staggering, restlessness, aggression, a change of the tone of their barks or growls, or choking. Passive animals sometimes become fierce and aggressive. Nocturnal animals sometimes appear during the day, as occurred in this instance. Discourage wild animal foraging by not leaving pet food outside and by securing garbage cans. Avoid feeding, touching, or housing stray or wild animals.
If you see a domestic animal (i.e. cat, dog) or a wild animal (i.e. raccoon, ground hog, skunk), that is sick, injured, orphaned (except fawns) or behaving oddly, leave it alone and contact Hopewell Township Animal Control. Do NOT handle the animal yourself. If possible, keep an eye on wandering animals to assists animal control with finding animal for capture.
If you or a loved one are bitten or scratched by an unfamiliar animal, or an animal suspected of having rabies, immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and then seek medical attention. Ask your medical provider to report and coordinate with the Hopewell Township Health Department. Not all situations require post-exposure treatment. Health Department and Animal Control staff will work to locate, capture, and test suspect animals in an effort to definitively identify if the animal is infectious.
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