Rabid Lamb Case Being Investigated by Cumberland Health Dept

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CUMBERLAND COUNTY, NJ —  The Cumberland County Department of Health (CCDOH) is currently investigating a positive rabies case that involved a lamb located at a farm in Greenwich Township.  

On April 25, 2017, the owners of the farm bought 3 lambs at an auction in Salem County that were brought there to sell from a farm in Gloucester County. One of the lambs died within 1 day of purchase and was not tested for rabies or other diseases.  

The male lamb that was confirmed rabid began showing clinical signs of rabies on May 3 and was euthanized on May 7.  

The CCDOH received positive lab results on May 17.  

It is not known at this time how the lamb became infected with the rabies virus.  

The CCDOH conducted an exposure investigation and interviewed five people who may have been in contact with the rabid lamb.  

To date, four of the five persons in contact are receiving post-exposure treatment. The New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA) is also involved and has completed an assessment and quarantine of the farm animals.  

The third lamb that was purchased is in quarantine which is being overseen by the NJDA.  CCDOH is obtaining a contact list for the third lamb in case it begins to exhibit symptoms of rabies. Salem County Health Department was immediately notified upon receipt of the information that lambs were purchased from the auction.  

The Gloucester County Health Department was also notified because the lambs originated from a Gloucester County farm. Rabies is a preventable but fatal disease that is usually found in wild raccoons, skunks and foxes.  

Cats and dogs also can become infected with rabies.  Animals that are aggressive, appear disoriented or more friendly than usual with humans or domestic animals may be infected with rabies.  

Being bitten by a rabid wild animal is the most common way for any human, pet or domestic animal to get infected with rabies; contact with animal saliva is also a risk for rabies infection.  

Residents are urged to check their dog and cat vaccination records and have their pets vaccinated for rabies before the current duration of immunity expires.

“We are asking anyone who may have come into contact with one of the lambs involved to please contact the Cumberland County Department of Health,” said Megan Sheppard, Health Officer for the Cumberland County Department of Health.  

“The news of another positive rabies case in Cumberland County is an appropriate time to remind residents of the importance of rabies vaccination in order to keep their pets safe and healthy,” states Sheppard.  

The Cumberland County Department of Health, along with our partners, will continue to monitor the situation closely.  

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact CCDOH at 856-327-7602.  

(Provided by the Cumberland County Dept. of Health) 

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