Bite is worse than bark
Free vaccinations for pets on May 15 in NB, Guttenberg
by Vanessa Cruz
Reporter Staff Writer
May 12, 2013 | 5012 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print


If you are bitten by an animal with rabies and don’t get treated quickly, the disease is likely to be fatal. Same goes for your household pets.

North Bergen and Guttenberg will provide free rabies vaccines on May 15.

“The importance of getting your [pet] vaccinated against rabies falls into the greater interest of protecting the public health of the community as well as the health and welfare of [your pet] in the event either is exposed to a rabid animal,” said Guttenberg Code Enforcement Officer Nick Rivelli.

Raccoons, skunks, and groundhogs are the animals that get the disease most often, but it can infect any warm-blooded creature, including household pets. Rabid animals tend to be more aggressive and may appear disoriented. If an infected animal is spotted, it will be captured and observed for 10 days to confirm that it does not have the virus. It will be euthanized if tested positive for the virus.

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“He was like a shark on the end of a fishing pole.” – Rich Censullo

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rabies is a viral disease commonly spread by a bite from an animal with contaminated saliva. If bitten by a rabid animal, humans should seek medical attention immediately. Human symptoms are reminiscent of common illnesses such as fever or a headache. However, as the disease progresses, the symptoms become more severe, ranging from anxiety to hallucinations. The virus incubates from two to 12 weeks in the body as it travels through the central nervous system, eventually causing inflammation of the brain. It can lead to death days after symptoms first appear.

“To date less than 140 documented cases of human survival from clinical rabies have been reported, and only two have not had a history of pre-or-post exposure prophylaxis,” says the CDC website.

Free vaccinations in North Bergen

North Bergen’s free rabies clinic will be Wednesday, May 15 from 7 to 8 p.m. at 1812 43rd Street on the corner of Tonnelle Avenue. Licensed veterinarian Dr. Carlos Triana of the Summit Animal Clinic in Union City will vaccinate pets. Pet owners are urged to bring their dogs on a leash and be able to place their pet on the examining table. While rabies shots are usually thought of only for dogs, felines can also be affected by the virus.

“Aside from the fact that it’s a very contagious viral disease, it’s very easily prevented,” said North Bergen Health Director Janet Castro. “Prevention is the best method for saving your dog’s life and a human life.”

Normally, residents might have to pay a veterinarian the cost of the rabies vaccination fee, which normally ranges from $25 to $85, and an office visit charge. But the city-sponsored shots are free.

For more information about North Bergen’s free rabies clinic, call (201) 392-2084.

Guttenberg clinic schedule

Guttenberg will provide free rabies shots also on Wednesday, May 15 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Town Hall, 6808 Park Ave. Licensed veterinarian Dr. John Hatch from the Secaucus Animal Hospital will vaccinate cats or dogs.

“The vaccine itself is provided by the state of New Jersey free of charge, thus making it readily available to the community as well as providing dog owners a no-excuse opportunity to comply with the law at no cost to them,” said Rivelli. “In order to have a valid dog license, owners are required to have their dog up to date with the rabies vaccination. More importantly, the rabies vaccination ensures the safety of the dog and community in the event of a bite by animal which may be infected with rabies.”

For additional information call (201) 868-2315 at either extension 120 or 149.

Rabid raccoon captured

Last September, former North Bergen Health Director Rich Censullo caught a rabid raccoon near an area where children were getting out of school. Censullo was lucky that the animal did not try to bite him although he did bite a car tire.

“[The raccoon] backed into a parked car and automatically turned around to bite the tire,” said Censullo. “He was like a shark on the end of a fishing pole. I was worried that he would run in the direction of the children and lash out at the children.”

The raccoon was brought to Dr. Triana. Potentially rabid animals are brought to him to be observed for 10 days to see if they show more symptoms. However, this raccoon was put to sleep after a few days, after officials received no reports of it having bitten anyone.

The animal’s body was sent to Trenton, where tests showed it did, in fact, have the disease.

He emphasized that anyone who sees a sick or injured animal should contact authorities immediately.

“Every city Health Department has an animal control facility that is available via 911,” said Censullo. “The police dispatchers all have the number for animal control so they can reach an animal control officer all the time. The best thing that people can do is stay as far away from the animal as possible. Any warm blooded mammal can contract rabies.”

To obtain more information on rabies, visit the upcoming free rabies event, speak with your veterinarian, the health department, the NJ Department of Health at http://nj.gov/health/cd/rabies/index.shtml, or the Center for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov.

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