PRINCE FREDERICK, Md. (June 9, 2011)—Since 2010, Calvert County has reported 3 foxes, 4 raccoons and 1 bat have tested positive for rabies. Last week a woman working in her garden was attacked by a rabid fox. Fortunately, the victim reported this encounter, sought medical attention quickly, and started post exposure rabies vaccinations before the lab test verified the animal was rabid.
In Maryland, rabies is most frequently found in wildlife, most commonly raccoons, foxes, skunks, and bats. Domestic animals, including livestock, are also at risk, and cats are the most frequently identified rabid domestic animal. The last human rabies case in Maryland occurred in 1976.
David L. Rogers, M.D., Calvert County Health Officer cautions that all residents should take steps to protect themselves and their pets from rabies. Rogers says the best way to do that is:
-- Vaccinate your family pets against rabies;
-- Do not let your pet roam free;
-- Do not feed stray or wild animals;
-- Do not leave pet food outside;
-- Educate your children about rabies and to stay away from wild animals or cats and dogs that are unfamiliar;
-- Prevent bats from entering your home; and
-- Don't pick up injured animals in the road.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the signs of rabies in animals include:
-- Changes in an animal's behavior;
-- Problems swallowing;
-- Increase in drool or saliva;
-- Wild animals that appear sick, disoriented, fearless or aggressive;
-- Difficulty moving or paralysis; and
-- Wild animals or bats that are usually nocturnal are active during daylight.
Rabies is a virus that invades the central nervous system and it can affect all warm- blooded animals, including humans. It is transmitted by the bite of a rabid animal or through the saliva of that animal into a fresh scratch or break in the skin. A series of post-exposure vaccinations can prevent rabies from developing. Once symptoms develop, rabies is almost always fatal.
If someone is bitten or exposed to rabies, the wound should immediately be washed with soap and running water. Get the name, address and telephone number of the animal's owner. If bitten by a wild animal, or bat, try to capture or confine the animal if it can be done safely. If the animal must be killed, try not to damage the head. Seek medical attention immediately. Notify the Sheriff's Department of all animal bites at 410-535-2800. For further information, visit www.cdc.gov/rabies/.
Source: Calvert County Health Department