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Rabid raccoon warning

March 31, 2009 4:27:00 PM PDT
Beware of sick-looking raccoons. That's the word from Burlington County Health officials after 3 raccoons with rabies have been found in the county over the last month: one in Riverton, one in Hainesport and another here in Westampton near Oxmead Road."I'm just worried that one of them could attack the kids because the kids actually play back in the basin there," said Tom Simpson.

"A little frightening that they would be out in the daylight and these guys could get mixed up and get in a pretty bad fight with them," said Amy James.

Amy, the owner of 2 Jack Russell terriers, didn't see the raccoon picked up near her home but she has seen a rabid raccoon in person.

"He looked like he was drugged. I mean it wasn't normal behavior."

Health officials say it's not so unusual to have 3 rabies cases in a month, but they're warning pet owners to make sure their animal's rabies shots are up to date because contact with a rabid raccoon could spell disaster.

"The problem with rabies is it's very treatable if you're bitten, but also if you don't receive treatment invariably it's fatal," said Bill Weisgarber of the Burlington Co. Health Department.

People and pets can be infected with rabies if they are bitten, scratched, or get a rabid animal's saliva in an open wound or cut. The virus can then be transmitted to the nervous system and travel to the brain. This all has Tanya Buran a little worried about her family dog.

"Out in the yard all the time, it is a concern for me."

Officials say to stay away from wild animals behaving strangely but if you or your pets are scratched, bitten or even licked by such an animal wash the wound thoroughly, see a doctor and call county health authorities.

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