A raccoon tested positive for rabies in Morris Township Friday, after residents reported two altercations with raccoons acting aggressively.
The Morris Township Health Department received a notification from a resident that the resident had been attacked by a raccoon, Morris Township officials said in a message distributed via the Nixle community notification service. Later the same day, the health department was alerted to an incident involving a raccoon and a resident's dogs. The incidents occurred in the Terry Drive and Maxine Drive area of the township.
Police responded, and a raccoon was destroyed, the officialssaid. Tests showed it was positive for the rabies virus. It wasn't immediately clear from information provided by the township if authorities had any way to confirm the raccoon they found was indeed the same one involved in the earlier incidents, or if any other raccoons in the area had been infected.
Officials urge any residents who have been bitten or scratched by a raccoon or wild animal—or who have pets that have been bitten or scratched—to contact the Morris Township Health Department immediately at 973-326-7390. They also ask residents to report any cases of stray cats or dogs or any other animal in the area acting strangely.
"Rabies is a preventable, fatal viral disease found in the saliva of infected domestic and wild animals," the health department said in the alert. "The virus can be transmitted by a bite or saliva contamination of an open cut or wound. Common carriers of the virus are mammals including raccoons, skunks, foxes, woodchucks, bats, and feral (stray) cats. You are advised to stay away from wild animals and animals that you do not know. Do not feed stray animals. Do not make pets of wild animals. Please keep garbage in a container with a tight fitting lid to prevent attracting animals. Clean up spilled bird seed. Do not leave pet food out for extended time periods. Please be certain that your cat or dog is properly vaccinated and up to date on rabies vaccinations. There are more cases of rabies in cats than in dogs, so rabies vaccination is especially important for cats. Be certain that your cat or dog is properly licensed, and is wearing their license tag. If you are exposed (either bitten or scratched) by any suspect animal, act promptly. Immediately wash the bite wound with soap and water and call your doctor and the health department. If your pet is involved with a suspect animal contact the health department and your veterinarian."