FAR HILLS –  The Somerset County Department of Health today warned residents that a raccoon found in the area of Sherwood Farm Road in Far Hills has tested positive for rabies.

On or about Nov. 17, a dog was in a conflict with a raccoon and had the raccoon in its mouth. The raccoon was sent to the public health laboratory at the New Jersey State Department of Health, where rabies was confirmed. The dog’s rabies vaccination is current; however, the owner will be requested to confine the dog for 45 days, as a precaution. Three other dogs in the household will receive rabies boosters. 

Far Hills residents who see an animal acting strangely should call the Police Department at 908-234-1192.

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“If you are bitten or attacked by an animal, do not delay in reporting it to the health authorities,” said Somerset County Health Officer Dr. Paul Masaba. “Rabies is a serious illness that can be fatal in humans without treatment.”

People can get rabies through animal bites or when saliva of an infected animal enters the body through cuts or scratches.  Rabies is preventable with prompt medical attention.  Anyone who is bitten or scratched by a wild or stray animal – including stray dogs and cats – should promptly wash the area with soap and water and seek medical attention.  If a pet is bitten or scratched, take it to a vet promptly.  In either case, be sure to report the incident immediately to the police and the local health department.  For health department contact information in Somerset County municipalities, visit www.co.somerset.nj.us/health/localhealth.aspx

According to the New Jersey State Department of Health, all areas of New Jersey, including urban centers, are affected by rabies in raccoons, resulting in an average of about 280 animal cases annually.  Suburban areas in which raccoons, people and pets are in close proximity have the highest number of cases. From 1989 through 2010, over 6,000 New Jersey animals were confirmed to have rabies, 77 percent of which were raccoons.

In Somerset County, dogs and cats are required to be routinely vaccinated against rabies. Residents are reminded of the importance of making sure their pets’ shots are current. 

A listing of upcoming rabies clinics in Somerset County can be found on the Somerset County Department of Health events calendar at http://www.co.somerset.nj.us/health/events.aspx This listing is updated as clinic dates are added.

For further information on rabies, visit the New Jersey Department of Health website atwww.nj.gov/health/cd/documents/faq/rabies_faq.pdf