Health officials have shared warning signs of rabid animals, after a woman was bitten in Cheesequake State Park by a raccoon that tested positive for the disease.

This is the seventh rabid animal reported within Middlesex County for 2019 and the first rabid animal in the township, according to the county health department.

A resident of Monmouth County was bitten by the raccoon while walking on a trail in the park on Friday, Aug. 9. The animal was picked up by an Old Bridge Animal Control Officer and was taken to the state Department of Health lab for testing.

Results came back on Friday, Aug. 16, and the woman was instructed to seek medical attention and rabies post exposure treatment.

Between January and June 30, more than 60 raccoons tested positive for rabies across New Jersey, according to state health department data.

In that same time span, 23 animals tested positive in Gloucester County. In July, Gloucester County put out rabies alerts after a raccoon and a fox both tested positive, found within a 10-mile area of each other. The raccoon scratched a person while the fox attacked a dog — both received treatment.

Last month, a young coyote tested positive for rabies in Hunterdon County, in Union Township.

A coyote attacked a mother and her toddler son in an Essex County park in June, before a police officer shot and killed the animal in Fairfield. The mom and child underwent rabies treatment as a precaution.

In April, a woman in Warren County was bitten twice by a rabid gray fox, which already had killed a cat on her Blairstown property.

Rabies is caused by a virus which can infect all warm-blooded mammals. The rabies virus is found in the saliva of a rabid animal and is transmitted by bite, or possibly by contamination of an open cut.

Bats, skunks, groundhogs, foxes, cats and dogs represent about 95% of animals diagnosed with rabies in the Unites States.

Residents are urged by state health officials to immediately report a bite from a wild or domestic animal to their local health department.

Wash animal bite wounds, or open cuts and scratches from animal contact, thoroughly with soap and water as soon as possible, while also notifying a doctor.

State health officials also remind residents and visitors to immediately report any wild animals showing signs of unusual behavior, which could include the following:
Move slowly
May act as if tame
Appear sick
An increase in saliva and/or drooling
Act aggressive
Have difficulty moving and/or paralysis
Bite at everything if excited

Residents should avoid any contact with the animal and call the local animal control officer or local police department.

Be sure that all family pets are up to date on their rabies vaccination.

The last human to die of rabies in NJ was in 2011, when a woman in Union County showed symptoms of the illness after being bitten by a dog in Haiti.

Before that, a Warren County man died in 1997, after coming into contact with rabid bats in his apartment.

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