MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ — The Westfield Veterinary Group and Wellness Center today warned clients Friday and posted on their Facebook page that a raccoon in Mountainside has been confirmed to have rabies. 

Please be very careful with your pets and be sure that they are up to date on their rabies vaccinations, it said. If you should see an animal that looks unwell or suspicious, DO NOT go near it and contact your local animal control.

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 state health department contact information the State of New Jersey Department of Health website.  

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According to the New Jersey State Department of Health, all areas of New Jersey, including urban centers, are affected by rabies in raccoons. Suburban areas in which raccoons, people and pets are in close proximity have the highest number of cases. 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. 

For further information on rabies, visit the New Jersey Department of Health website at http://www.nj.gov/health/cd/topics/rabies.shtml.