Report Confirmed or Suspect Cases Immediately to the Local Health Department.

Rabies is an infectious disease caused by the rabies virus. Animals infected with rabies display strange behavior such as aggression, and signs of neurologic impairment including vocalization, circling, and paralysis.

People who are bitten by, or have had contact with saliva from an animal should notify the local health department (LHD) having jurisdiction where the animal is located and seek medical care.  A directory of LHDs is posted online here. LHDs can be also contacted through police departments in the event of an emergency. LHD staff will consult with the persons bitten or exposed to rabies and will make recommendations regarding rabies prophylaxis to their health care provider. If the suspect rabid animal is available, LHDs may also arrange for testing or confinement of animals.

Education Materials
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Laboratory Testing and Guidance

N.J.S.A. 26:4-86.1-2 requires that when it is necessary to test a domestic companion animal (not including domestic livestock) for rabies, the health official or veterinarian must first notify the owner of the animal, verbally and in writing, of the necessity and reason for rabies testing; the rabies testing protocol to be followed; the protocol for handling of the animal’s body; the protocol for disposal of the animal’s body or return to the owner; and the protocol for decapitation. The full text of this statute can be access through NJ Legislative Statutes. NJDOH developed the Rabies Testing Notification Form to be used by health officials and veterinarians to provide the necessary notification to owners.


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Disease Prevention
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Last Reviewed: 3/27/2024