Health officials in a Morris County town are warning residents after 10 rabid raccoons have been captured and two other clearly sick raccoons have had to be euthanized in recent weeks, officials said.
The raccoons have been spotted during the day in Denville throughout the 12-square mile township and are not just confined to one area, animal control officer Meredith Petrillo said Friday.
On Sep. 6, a raccoon charged at a man walking his dog in the Rock Ridge section of town, Petrillo said. Later that day, Petrillo went to look for the raccoon and it ran at both her and a police officer before the cop was forced to shoot the animal.
Both the resident and his dog received treatment after coming into contact with the raccoon.
On Monday, a sick raccoon found on a resident’s sidewalk had to be euthanized. Then Thursday, another raccoon spotted in a parking lot scooted into a storm drain before it could be corralled, Petrillo said.
Many of the raccoons have been stumbling around or making strange noises – sure signs that something is wrong.
“Some of the clinical symptoms are that they appear wobbly or display abnormal vocalization,” Petrillo said. “Wild animals generally don’t alert you of their presence. When you hear them making a strange noise, that’s abnormal.”
For the time being, Denville will stop sending obviously ill raccoons to the state health department to be tested.
“For any raccoons that appear to be sick, we’re going to assume there’s a good possibility they have the rabies virus,” Petrillo said.
Rabies is a potentially deadly disease caused by a virus found in the saliva of sick animals. Rabies can be transmitted by bites, scratches or possibly by the contaminated saliva coming in contact with open cuts or with your eyes.
Officials urged residents to make sure pets are up to date on their shots. They also cautioned people not to approach wildlife, especially if the animal appears to be sick or injured.
Garbage cans should also be tightly covered and pets left outside should be checked for any bites or other injuries.
Residents are asked to report sick or injured animals such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, woodchucks, bats as well as stray animals to Denville police at 973-627-4900, extension 9.