According to the Garrett County Health Department the Environmental Health Services reports the second and third cases of laboratory-confirmed rabies for 2020 in the county. Following separate incidents in the Oakland area, a fox and a raccoon were submitted to the Maryland Department of Health laboratory for rabies testing. These specimens were confirmed positive for rabies on July 25, 2020, and July 27, 2020.
On July 23, 2020, a property owner witnessed an altercation between its currently vaccinated dog and a fox. Following the altercation, the owner observed the fox walk away from the area and lie down. After attending to the dog, the owner approached the fox, trying to get it to vacate the property. Once disturbed, the fox latched on to the property owner’s hand. An individual accompanying the property owner was able to locate and euthanize the fox shortly after. The property owner was transported to the emergency room and immediately began rabies post-exposure treatment. The individual will continue to receive the post-exposure shots since the fox was confirmed positive for rabies.
Also occurring on July 23, 2020, a separate incident occurred when a property owner observed its dog fighting with a raccoon. The altercation lead to the death of the raccoon. Unsure of the rabies vaccination status of the dog at the time, the raccoon was approved by Environmental Health Services to be tested for rabies. The testing confirmed a positive rabies result. Following standard protocol for rabies prevention and control, the dog was evaluated by a licensed veterinarian and received a rabies booster shot. The dog will be closely monitored for the next 45 days.
This is a reminder to avoid wild animals. Even if they appear docile, they can attack. It is important to remember that if your pet is exposed to a wild animal, do not handle your pet within two hours after contact. However, if it is necessary, wear gloves and wash hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after contact. If you have been bitten by a wild animal that cannot be captured, or exposed to an animal suspected of having rabies, seek medical treatment immediately.
Due to COVID-19, the low-cost rabies clinics are postponed until further notice. Although health department clinics are postponed, pet owners are urged to check the vaccination status of their dogs, cats, and ferrets, and follow-up with their vet as appropriate. All dogs and cats are required, by law, to be vaccinated against rabies by four months of age and can be vaccinated as early as three months. Persons with questions regarding rabies should call Environmental Health Services at 301-334-7760 or 301-895-3111.