Res­i­dent rues riled rac­coon

An­i­mal es­caped, couldn’t be tested for ra­bies

Sunday Star - - FRONT PAGE - By PAIGE MAL­LORY PASSMAN ppass­man@ches­

EAS­TON — The Tal­bot County Health Depart­ment’s Of­fice of En­vi­ron­men­tal Health re­ceived no­ti­fi­ca­tion Tues­day, May 29, that a rac­coon ag­gres­sively at­tacked an Eas­ton res­i­dent, re­sult­ing in treat­ment with a

post-ex­po­sure ra­bies vac­ci­na­tion.

This in­ci­dent oc­curred in the area of Ferry Bridge Road. The rac­coon fled fol­low­ing the at­tack and was un­able to be tested to con­firm the pres­ence of the ra­bies virus.

Within the past month, the Of­fice of En­vi­ron­men­tal Health has sub­mit­ted four rac­coons and one ground­hog to the state’s lab­o­ra­tory for ra­bies test­ing. Three of the four rac­coons were con­firmed pos­i­tive for the ra­bies virus, and the ground­hog tested neg­a­tive.

In each case, the spec­i­men that was sub­mit­ted had been in con­tact with a fam­ily pet.

Ra­bies is a deadly dis­ease caused by a virus in the ner­vous system. All mam­mals can con­tract ra­bies; how­ever, it oc­curs most of­ten in skunks, rac­coons, foxes and bats.

The ra­bies virus lives in the saliva of the ra­bid an­i­mal, and it’s spread through the bite or scratch by an in­fected an­i­mal. Peo­ple can be­come ex­posed to ra­bies when saliva from an in­fected an­i­mal gets into an open wound in the skin, or in the eyes, nose or mouth (in­di­rect ex­po­sure).

Ra­bid an­i­mals may ap­pear sickly, and they also may ex­hibit signs of ex­treme ag­gres­sion or ap­pear docile (al­most friendly be­hav­ior). These types of ab­nor­mal be­hav­iors should be con­sid­ered sus­pi­cious.

The best form of preven­tion is avoid­ing con­tact with any wild an­i­mal. If hu­man con­tact oc­curs through a bite or scratch, or in­di­rect ex­po­sure, the area con­tacted should be washed im­me­di­ately with soap and wa­ter, and the in­di­vid­ual ex­posed to the virus should con­sult with their med­i­cal clin­i­cian im­me­di­ately to de­ter­mine if post-ex­po­sure treat­ment is rec­om­mended.

Keep­ing pets vac­ci­nated against ra­bies is im­por­tant in pre­vent­ing the spread of the ra­bies virus.

Mary­land law re­quires that a licensed vet­eri­nar­ian prop­erly vac­ci­nate all dogs, cats and fer­ret over the age of 4 months against ra­bies. If a pet comes in con­tact with a ra­bid an­i­mal or sus­pected ra­bid an­i­mal, the pet owner should con­tact the county health depart­ment for fur­ther in­struc­tions.

If the pet owner chooses to han­dle the pet within two hours of the sus­pected ra­bies, ex­po­sure non­porous gloves need to be worn.

If any ex­po­sure oc­curs to pets or hu­mans af­ter nor­mal busi­ness hours, in­di­vid­u­als may con­tact the Tal­bot County Health Depart­ment’s Of­fice of En­vi­ron­men­tal Health at 410822-0095 (Tal­bot County Emer­gency Op­er­a­tions Cen­ter). The dis­patcher will con­tact the en­vi­ron­men­tal health spe­cial­ist on call, who will con­tact the in­di­vid­ual and pro­vide the nec­es­sary as­sis­tance.

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