Rabies is not a rare disease among animals in New Jersey. Already this year there have been 65 known cases of rabies, including two coyotes in Bergen County.
Rabies can be found in many wild animals, including raccoons, bats, skunks, groundhogs, and foxes. It is also found frequently in cats, which are more frequently determined to be rabid than dogs.
The state health department is urging all pet owners to vaccinate their pets, since once the symptoms appear the disease is almost always fatal. Rabies is transmitted through the saliva of a bite, and symptoms can take 12 days to six months to appear. If treated promptly, the treatment is 100 percent effective.
Anyone who suspects an animal is rabid should avoid contact and call animal control, according to state public health veterinarian Dr. Colin T. Campbell. Rabid animals can appear very aggressive and attempt to attack people and pets. If your pet is bitten, call your veterinarian immediately and try to learn as much as you can about the animal so you may be able to help in its capture. Rabies cases in humans are extremely rare.