SNOW HILL — The Worcester County Health Department this week issued a reminder to county residents about the dangers of rabies and announced a series of upcoming clinics.
According to the health department, rabid animals continue to be found in all areas of Worcester County, even within town limits. There have been seven confirmed rabid raccoons thus far in 2012 and two of them were found in the town limits of Snow Hill and Pocomoke. Raccoons are the most frequently identified carriers of rabies in Maryland and throughout Worcester County, but the deadly viral disease has also been found in Worcester in foxes, skunks, cats, groundhogs and bats.
Cat with rabies serve as a reminder that the disease is not only associated with wild animals. Cats are the number one domestic animal species most likely to be unvaccinated and are at higher risk of exposure to rabid wildlife while outdoors. In Worcester County, there have been four laboratory confirmed cases of rabid cats in the last two-and-a-half years with a number of human and pet exposures.
The county is recommending several things residents can do to protect their families and pets from exposure. Have pet cats, dogs and ferrets vaccinated regularly and keep those vaccinations in accordance with the law, especially outdoor cats. Don’t let pets roam free as they are more likely to have contact with a rabid wild animal. Avoid feeding pets outside as this may draw stray and wild animals to the doorstep.
Residents are also reminded to avoid sick animals and those acting in an unusual manner, and teach children not to approach wild animals and animals they do not know. If one’s pet has contact with a wild animal, avoid touching the pet or wear gloves, and do not touch the wild animal. Report the incident immediately to the health department or the local police department to arrange testing of the wild animal, if available, and consult a veterinarian.
In order to assist residents in keeping their pets currently vaccinated, the Worcester County Health Department is offering a series of rabies vaccination clinics.
The first will be held next Wednesday, May 9, from 5:30-7 p.m. The second will be held the following day, May 10, at the County Animal Control facility on Timmons Rd. in Snow Hill from 5-7:30 p.m. The cost is $5 for county residents with proof of residency, and $10 for non-residents. Dogs must be secured on a leash and cats and ferrets must be in a carrier of box with air holes. For more information, call 410-641-9559, or 410-632-1340.