Revised:  06/02/2008

Memo for May 23, 2008

 

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New Jersey Department of Agriculture

 

Memo

To: Veterinarians, General Public

From: Nancy E. Halpern, DVM, New Jersey State Veterinarian

Date: May 23, 2008

Re: Rabies Found in Two Bats in Burlington County

 

Burlington County Health Department has released a warning to residents in the Mill Street area of Mount Holly to beware of wild and stray animals following the discovery of two rabid bats inside a resident's home. The County has concerns about the level of rabies in this area, since it has been the site of additional cases, including a stray cat, in the past 2 years.

 

Because of the unusual clinical signs often observed in rabies-infected livestock species and the potential for exposure to rabies in this area, the Division of Animal Health and the Burlington County Health Department are cooperating to disseminate relevant information in the community.

 

Although veterinarians are well aware of the endemic nature of rabies in New Jersey, not all livestock are vaccinated for this disease. We encourage livestock owners to contact their veterinarians with questions about rabies vaccination in these animals, whether they are kept for agricultural purposes or not.

Veterinarians are reminded that rabies, suspected or confirmed in livestock species is reportable to the State Veterinarian immediately or within 48 hours, maximum. Veterinarians aware of livestock exposed to suspect rabid animals (e.g., raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, cats, etc.) should notify appropriate agencies at the time of exposure, instead of waiting for confirmation of tests.

 

Rabies, a fatal viral disease of all warm-blooded mammals, is commonly found in New Jersey, most often in bats, raccoons, skunks as well as domestic animals, including livestock. Bites are the main routes of transmission because a diseased animal has the rabies virus in its saliva and will frequently bite other animals.

 

As compared to rabies in dogs and cats, the disease in most livestock species often begins with slight depression and progresses to neurological symptoms, including: walking in circles, eating non-edible items, "star gazing," or generally not acting normally. Other symptoms commonly observed in a rabid animal include: fever, loss of appetite, excessive irritability, unusual vocalization, a change in behavior, restlessness, jumping at noises, trouble walking, excess salivation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, stupor, or unprovoked aggression.

 

Vaccination of livestock and other domestic animals is recommended because this is the most effective strategy to prevent the disease. Because of the public and animal health significance of this disease, vaccination must be performed by a duly licensed veterinarian using a USDA approved vaccine.

 

For questions concerning rabies in livestock please call the State Veterinarian with the Division of Animal Health at 609-292-3965. To report suspicion of rabies in any species, call your local health department or the state Department of Health and Senior Services at 609-599-3121.

 

 

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