OLD BRIDGE – A Monmouth County resident was bitten by a rabid raccoon while walking on a trail in a state park in the township, health officials said on Aug. 16.
The unidentified Monmouth County resident was using a trail in Cheesequake State Park in Old Bridge on Aug. 9 when the attack occurred.
Though the rabies virus is very rare in humans, if not treated it is extremely fatal with a mortality rate of 99.9 percent – the highest of any disease, according to WebMD.com.
“The raccoon was sitting on the side of the trail when the resident approached it and then was bitten,” said Middlesex County health officials.
The raccoon was sent to the state Health Laboratory, which determined it had rabies on Aug. 16. The resident was told to seek medical attention and state park officials were “also notified of the result,” health officials said.
This is the seventh rabies case reported in Middlesex County in 2019 and is the first in Old Bridge. It is the first confirmed case of a rabid animal biting a person and third human interaction.
In April, health officials reported that two Monroe residents came in contact with a rabid raccoon in their yard. Though the raccoon did not bite the residents, they were advised to visit their doctor for rabies post-exposure treatment.
The disease is contracted after a bite or scratch — transfer of saliva — from a wild animal that is infected. It most commonly found in raccoons, foxes, bats, coyotes, and skunks. Rabies in people generally comes from pet dogs, which is why health experts recommended keeping pets up-to-date with the vaccination.
Rabies can be latent in a person for one to three months before symptoms appear. Rabies attack the central nervous system and the brain.
Some symptoms, WebMD notes is a fever, fatigue or feeling weak. Additionally, pain, tingling or burning at the wound can happen. The website also notes that as the virus spreads through the central nervous system, symptoms can include hallucinations.
Some signs that an animal may have rabies include moving slowly, may act as if tame, appear sick, has problems swallowing, has an increase in saliva, has increased drooling, acts aggressive, difficulty moving, has paralysis and bites at everything if excited.
For more information about rabies, including symptoms, visit cdc.gov/rabies.