FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, NJ – The Somerset County Department of Health is warning residents that a raccoon found in the area of Hollywood Avenue in the Somerset section of Franklin Township has tested positive for rabies.

Suburban areas in which raccoons, people and pets are in close proximity have the highest number of cases. From January to June of this year, the state Department of Health reported a total of 49 rabid raccoons in New Jersey, three of which were in Somerset County.

On Aug. 1, a resident’s dog attacked a raccoon in its own backyard. The raccoon was subsequently picked up by Franklin Township Animal Control and was sent to the public health laboratory at the New Jersey Department of Health, where rabies was confirmed. The dog has a current rabies vaccination and received a booster shot. The dog currently is under a 45-day quarantine as required by law. 

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Any residents who see an animal acting strangely should stay away and call their local police department or local health department. “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 http://bit.ly/MunicHealth

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 at http://bit.ly/HealthCalendar This listing is updated as clinic dates are provided to the county health department.

For further information on rabies, visit the New Jersey Department of Health website at http://bit.ly/RabiesFAQ