MIDDLESEX COUNTY — A bat recently found near Rivercrest Drive and Ludlow Street in Piscataway has tested positive for rabies.

The bat is the first rabid animal reported in Piscataway this year, and the third in the county, said officials with the Middlesex County Office of Health Services on Wednesday.

“Rabies is caused by a virus which can infect all warm-blooded mammals, including people," said health officials. “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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Residents should report any wild animal showing signs of unusual behavior to the Piscataway Police Department and avoid all contact.

Signs of unusual animal behavior include:

  • slow movement

  • a tame appearance

  • sickly looking

  • exhibiting problems swallowing

  • an increase in saliva

  • excessive drooling

  • acting aggressively

  • difficulty moving

  • paralysis

  • biting when excited

Officials advise residents to follow these guidelines in order to prevent rabies from being transmitted to themselves or their pets:

  • 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 a physician consulted 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.

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