Worcester County Health Department urges caution concerning aggressive wildlife in Ocean City

Ocean City, Md. – Worcester County Health Department warns citizens and visitors in Ocean City to exercise caution and report immediately any aggressive wildlife, i.e. raccoons, foxes, skunks, and/or feral cats to local law enforcement/animal control. 

Since June 18 when a confirmed rabid raccoon found in the area of 125th street attacked one individual and became aggressive with two others, Worcester County Health Department has continued to receive reports of aggressive raccoons, including raccoons approaching or attacking people and pets in north Ocean City, in areas including 85th Street north to approximately 130th Street.

To date in 2013, Worcester County reports 18 confirmed positive rabid animals and 15 other animals suspected of having rabies that have had contact with people or pets. These cases have come from throughout the county, including Ocean City. The results of these incidences have included rabies treatment for exposed humans and quarantine/euthanasia for exposed pets.

Worcester County health officials request immediate reporting of any aggressive or threatening wildlife to law enforcement/animal control. This will allow a quick response to the scene in order to minimize risk to human health. Local law enforcement/animal control then contacts the health department to manage any possible human or pet exposures and determine whether rabies testing is indicated.

If a pet has contact with a wild animal, do not touch the pet with bare hands. Wounds found on an outdoor pet from an unwitnessed encounter should be treated as a possible rabies exposure and the incident reported to the health department and your veterinarian.

The health department also offers the following tips to minimize risk of rabies exposure to your family and pets:
  • Vaccinate pets and keep those vaccinations current. Maryland law requires vaccination against rabies for all dogs, cats and ferrets over 4 months of age. Rabies vaccinations (shots) have limited time of protection, so citizens should verify that their pets are CURRENTLY protected.
  •  Do not feed pets outdoors. Pet food, even the odor of it, in empty containers and on the ground draws wildlife. While looking for food is normal behavior for raccoons and foxes particularly in the spring when there are young to be fed, these animals may return to areas they frequent if they become rabid.
  • Secure trash cans and dumpster lids for the same reason outlined above. Wild animals forage for food and minimizing food sources will discourage wildlife from coming to your property.
  • Remove strays from the community. Stray cats are of particular concern, as they are competing for food with wildlife and have more opportunity for exposure to rabid wildlife, such as raccoons. Many of the fights with raccoons go unwitnessed, and are only noted after the cat becomes rabid. Cats are the most frequently identified rabid domestic animal
For more information about rabies visit our website http://worcesterhealth.org.

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