FAR HILLS – The Somerset County Department of Health is warning residents that a raccoon found in the area of Lake Road in Far Hills has tested positive for rabies.

“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 said in a news release on Wednesday. “Rabies is a serious illness that can be fatal in humans without treatment.”

According to the release, on March 8, two dogs were involved in a conflict with a raccoon and attacked the raccoon. The raccoon then was sent to the public health laboratory at the New Jersey Department of Health, where rabies was confirmed, the county health department said.

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Both of the dogs’ rabies vaccinations are current, according to the release. The dogs were placed under confinement by Animal Control Solutions. The owner will be requested to extend the confinement for the dogs by 45 days, as required by the state Department of Health. Both of the dogs received a rabies booster, the release said.

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

The phone number for the police department in neighboring Bernards Township, which borders Far Hills Borough, is 908-766-1122.

The Bernards Township animal control officer can be reached before 4 p.m. at 908-204-3066.

The Somerset County Health Department said that 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, the health department said.

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 http://bit.ly/MunicHealth

Suburban areas in which raccoons, people and pets are in close proximity reportedly have the highest number of cases of rabies. Last year, the state Department of Health reported a total of 113 rabid raccoons in New Jersey, five of which were in Somerset County.