WORCESTER COUNTY REPORTS FIRST CONFIRMED CASE OF RABIES IN FAMILY PET FOR 2013

SNOW HILL (Oct. 28, 2013) - Worcester County Health Department confirms that a dog from the Snow Hill area has been laboratory confirmed positive for rabies.  The dog, a family pet, had a fight with a raccoon several weeks ago, prior to the development of symptoms of rabies last week.   Once rabies symptoms developed in the dog, the owner notified Worcester County Animal Control.  Based on those symptoms and the reported exposure to a raccoon, the Health Department was contacted and the dog was euthanized and sent for rabies testing at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Rabies Laboratory.  The positive results were received late Friday.  A number of individuals, mostly family, were exposed to the rabid dog and appropriate medical assessments were initiated on Friday for those exposed and post exposure rabies treatment started.
This incident follows an unusually high incidence this year in the County of rabid animals, mostly raccoons, which have come into contact with either people or pets.  To date in 2013, the Health Department has confirmed 43 rabid animals consisting of 37 raccoons, 3 foxes, 1 groundhog, 1 bat and this dog.  
 
There have also been 36 other suspect rabies investigations where the suspect animal was not able to be tested.

This latest case illustrates the importance of vaccinating pets against this deadly disease.  Maryland law requires rabies vaccinations for dogs, cats and ferrets.  The vaccination protects the animal for a limited time and it is important that pet owners follow up and revaccinate their pet when the protection expires.  The date the animal is due for its next shot can be found on the rabies certificate provided by the veterinarian.  If the date the animal is due is not known, pet owners should contact their veterinarian for the due date and vaccinate right away if expired.
 
Additionally, it is extremely important that any contact between a person or pet and a suspect rabid animal, such as raccoons, foxes, groundhogs, skunks, be reported immediately.  Health Department, local law enforcement and/or Animal Control are available 7 days a week to evaluate exposures in order that steps can be taken to test the offending animal and minimize the risk of further exposure.  Owners should not handle a pet bare handed immediately after contact to a wild animal – use gloves or other barrier if the pet must be handled.  
For further information regarding rabies in Worcester County, go to www.worcesterhealth.org or contact your veterinarian.
 

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