Ocean City Today

Rabid animals to be avoided, county health dept. warns

By Josh Davis | Oct 26, 2017
Source: Worcester County Health Department

(Oct. 27, 2017) Confirmed cases of rabies appear to be down this year, although a recent scare in Berlin apparently caused a shop owner to shoot an animal suspected of being rabid.

Travis Brown, public information officer for the Worcester County Health Department, said nine cases of rabies were confirmed this year: seven raccoons, one possum and one cat. The most recent, a raccoon, occurred on Sept. 29 in Newark.

Additional animals that tested positive were found in Berlin, Girdletree, Stockton and Snow Hill.

A confirmed case means the animal tested positive for the rabies virus in a laboratory.

According to health department statistics, 14 cases were confirmed last year and a dozen were confirmed in 2015.

By comparison, 46 cases were confirmed in 2013 and 52 cases were confirmed in 2009. During each year in which statistics were available, the vast number of cases were found in raccoons.

“At nine cases so far in 2017, we’re actually having a relatively calm year compared to past trends, at least so far into October,” Brown said.

Brown said a shop owner on Evans road in Berlin, believing the animal to be rabid, shot a fox on his property last Friday.

“That animal did not meet our requirements for testing, because it did not come into any direct contact with people or pets,” Brown said. “That was not a confirmed case.”

The health department released a statement of general advice on rabies:

“If you see a wild animal, such as a raccoon, skunk, fox, groundhog, opossum, or a feral cat behaving in a threatening or obviously sick manner, or should your pet be involved in an altercation with one of those animals – report the incident immediately to your local police department or Sheriff’s Office.

“Prevent further contact by keeping pets and people away. If a pet or person has already had contact, it is important that the rabies suspect animal be obtained (safely) for rabies testing. If a pet has had contact, do not touch the pet barehanded.

“Make sure the health department is contacted for further instructions if contact has occurred. Your pet’s veterinarian may also be contacted for further advice. Pet owners should keep their pets currently vaccinated against rabies. Residents should also make every effort to discourage wildlife from visiting their property. Pet food should not be left outside and trash cans should be secured.”

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