MIDDLESEX COUNTY - A bat found in Milltown tested postive for rabies according to a press release from the Middlesex County Office of Health Services. The bat is the eighth rabid animal in Middlesex County this year and the first one in Milltown.

A borough resident woke up to a bat in the room on Sept. 16. The animal was trapped by an exterminator and picked up by an Animal Control Officer. It was then taken to the New Jersey Department of Health Laboratory to be tested. The results, which were reported on Friday, indicated the bat was positive for the rabies virus. A single person was exposed along with a possible pet exposure. The resident is already under the care of a physician and has started the post exposure prophylaxis outlined for a human rabies exposure. The animal in question was vaccinated at the time of the possible exposure and will be receiving a rabies booster.

Rabies is caused by a virus which can infect all warm-blooded mammals, including people. 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:

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.

  • 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 the saliva of potentially rabid animals should also be washed off immediately and consult a physician as soon as possible following any animal bite.

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 yards 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.