Police warn residents to beware of rabid raccoons

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[DANIELLA HEMINGHAUS]

POINT PLEASANT — Local leaders are warning residents, community members and visitors to be aware of rabid raccoons following confirmation of cases in the local area throughout the last few days.

“On July 14th, 2021, the Point Pleasant Borough Animal Control Officer, Muskrat Jack, reported a possible rabies epidemic in raccoons within the Borough of Point Pleasant. Muskrat Jack noted several raccoons recently have tested positive for rabies,” a message posted on the Point Pleasant Police Department’s Facebook page reads.

The post went on to share insight about how community members can tell if an animal has rabies.

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“You can’t always tell if an animal has rabies by just looking at it — the only way to know for sure if an animal has rabies is to perform laboratory testing. However, animals with rabies may act strangely,” the message reads.

“Some may be aggressive and try to bite you or other animals, or they may drool more than normal. [This is sometimes shown in movies as animals ‘foaming at the mouth.’] But not all animals with rabies will be aggressive or drooling. 

“Other animals may act timid or shy, and a wild animal might move slowly or act tame. You might be able to easily get close to it. Since that’s not the way wild animals usually act, you should remember that something could be wrong. Some animals may not show any signs of having rabies. It’s important to leave wild animals alone, including baby animals.”

Some unusual behaviors to look for, according to the post, include staggering gait, an animal seemingly oblivious to noise or nearby movement, erratic wandering, discharge from eyes or mouth, wet and matted hair on face, repeated high-pitch vocalization and self-mutilation.

Anyone encountering a raccoon exhibiting this unusual behavior, should call the Point Pleasant Police Department immediately at 732-892-0060 so Animal Control can be dispatched to retrieve the raccoon.

“Pet owners are encouraged to keep their dogs and cats up to date on all their vaccinations. It is also encouraged to maintain property free of trash and use animal proof garbage cans to discourage animals from hanging around your property,” the post adds.

A similar message was released on the Borough of Point Pleasant Beach website July 15.

“The Borough of Point Pleasant Beach is currently experiencing a higher-than-normal incidence of rabies positive raccoons throughout Point Pleasant Beach and Point Pleasant Borough. The rabies virus can infect any mammal, including dogs, cats, small wildlife and humans,” it read.

“Outbreaks such as this occur periodically, and will eventually subside, but until then we are taking steps to ensure that residents and visitors to Point Pleasant Beach are aware of this occurrence, and can act appropriately if a situation arises.”

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