Rabid raccoon identified in Maplewood; vaccinate your pets

MAPLEWOOD, NJ — St. Hubert’s Animal Control captured a young male raccoon on June 8 and identified that it was infected with rabies virus, according to a June 11 press release from the Maplewood Health Department. The resident who made the call to the Maplewood Health Department noted that the raccoon was acting strangely. St. Hubert’s Animal Control confirmed that the raccoon was not behaving appropriately.

According to the N.J. Department of Health, rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus. The virus is found in the saliva of a rabid animal and is transmitted by a bite, or possibly by saliva contamination of an open cut or the eyes. Left untreated, rabies attacks the nervous system and causes death.

According to the Humane Society, in the “furious” form, wild animals may appear to be agitated, bite or snap at imaginary and real objects, and drool excessively. In the “dumb” form, wild animals may appear tame and seem to have no fear of humans. There are other signs, such as the animal appearing drunk or excessively wobbly, circling, seeming partially paralyzed, acting disorientated or mutilating itself. However, most of these signs can also be indicative of other diseases like distemper or lead poisoning. There are few behavioral signs that are telltale of rabies alone.

It should be clarified that a raccoon seen in the daytime, especially in the spring, can be common and is not an uncharacteristic sign as they are searching for food for their young. At no time should a resident approach or attempt to feed a wild animal as the animal may be sick but not be exhibiting symptoms.

At this time, the Maplewood Health Department encourages all residents with domestic animals to get their dog and/or cat vaccinated for rabies, especially if your dog and/or cat go outside in the yard or wander around the house. A rabid raccoon or other wild animal may be aggressive and approach or even attack an animal.

The Maplewood Health Department oversees the contract for animal control with St. Hubert’s Animal Services and licenses all cats and dogs in Maplewood annually. Rabies vaccination is imperative to animal and human safety that is a requirement for all dog and cat license applications.

If you have any questions or concerns, contact the Health Officer Robert Roe at 973-762-8120, ext. 4400.