SPOTSWOOD, NJ - The Spotswood Police Department is alerting residents of a rabies advisory issued on May 31 by the Middlesex County Office of Health Services via Nixle. Five rabid animals have been reported in Middlesex County in 2018 with the latest being identified in East Brunswick.

Testing done on a raccoon captured and euthanized by East Brunswick Animal Control was completed on May 2. The raccoon was discovered by home owners in the vicinity of Washington Avenue and Port Street on April 28 and was showing neurological symptoms. The testing, which was completed at the New Jersey Department of Health Laboratory stated the raccoon tested positive for rabies. There wasn't any known contact between the animal with humans or other animals in the area. However, the Middlesex County Office of Health Service is reminding residents to avoid contact with wild animals and to make sure all family pets are up to date with their rabies vaccination.

Rabies is caused by a virus which can infect all warm-blooded mammals, including man. The rabies virus is found in the saliva of a rabid animal and is transmitted by a bite or possibly by contamination of an open cut.  New Jersey is enzootic for raccoon and bat variants of rabies.  Bats, raccoons, skunks, groundhogs, foxes, cats and dogs represent about 95 percent of animals diagnosed with rabies in the United States.

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The Middlesex County Office of Health Services is advising residents to follow these guidelines in order to prevent rabies from being transmitted to themselves or their pets:

  • Immediately report a bite from a wild or domestic animal to the local health department.
  • Wash animal bite wounds thoroughly with soap and water as soon as possible after the bite.

Contamination of open cuts or scratches with saliva of potentially rabid animals should also be washed off immediately and consult a physician as soon as possible following any animal bite

Residents should also report any wild animal showing signs of unusual behavior to the Spotswood Police Department and avoid all contact.

Signs of unusual animal behavior include:

  • slow movement
  • appearing tame
  • looking sickly
  • exhibit problems swallowing
  • an increase in saliva
  • excessive drooling
  • acting aggressively
  • difficulty moving
  • paralysis
  • biting when excited

Residents should also be wary of typically nocturnal animals that are active during the daytime.a

In addition to making sure all family pets are current with their rabies vaccination, residents should also take these steps to keep their yards less inviting to wild animals.
  • Make sure all garbage containers have tight fitting lids
  • Do not leave pet food or water outside
  • Do not allow rainwater to collect in outdoor containers or equipment
  • Keep yard free of garbage and debris
  • Do not feed or handle wild animals
  • Avoid contact with stray animals or pets other than your own
  • Try to prevent your pets from coming into contact with wild animals
  • Screen off vents to attics and other areas that could provide shelter for bats.

The non-emergency telephone number for the Spotswood Police Department is 732-251-2121. All emergencies should be reported by telephoning 911.