Resident rues riled raccoon
Animal escaped, couldn’t be tested for rabies
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.