Pet Euthanized In County After Rabies Confirmed

SNOW HILL — The Worcester County Health Department on Monday confirmed a dog from the Snow Hill area has tested positive for rabies and had to be euthanized after a fight with a raccoon.
The dog, a family pet in the Snow Hill area, had a fight with a raccoon several weeks ago, but only started showing symptoms of rabies last week. Once rabies symptoms developed, the owner notified Worcester County Animal Control. Based on the symptoms and the reported exposure to the raccoon, the dog was euthanized and sent for rabies testing at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene rabies laboratory.
The positive results were received late Friday. A number of individuals, mostly family members, were exposed to the rabid dog and appropriate medical assessments were initiated on Friday. Those exposed have started receiving post-exposure rabies treatment.
The incident follows an unusually high incidence in Worcester this year of rabid animals, mostly raccoons, who have come into contact with people or pets. To date in 2013, the health department has confirmed 43 rabid animals including 37 raccoons, three foxes, one groundhog, one bat and the family pet from last week. There have also been 36 other rabies investigations during which the suspected animals were not able to be tested.
The latest case illustrates the importance of vaccinating pets against the 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 for pet owners to follow up and revaccinate their animals 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 animal’s due date is not known, pet owners should contact their veterinarian for the due date and vaccinate right away if expired.
In addition, it is extremely important that any contact between a person or pet and a suspect rabid animal, such as raccoons, foxes, groundhogs and skunks, be reported immediately. Health department officials, along with local law enforcement and Animal Control are available seven days a week to evaluate exposures in order to take steps to test the offending animal and minimize the risk of further exposure. Owners should not handle a pet bare-handed immediately after contact with a wild animal.