(Sept. 6, 2019) This Worcester County Health Department confirmed the 13th case of rabies this year when a man brought a sick raccoon to the Nature Center at the Pocomoke River State Park at Shad Landing in Snow Hill last Wednesday.
Staff members at the park noticed that the raccoon wasn’t moving, which is a symptom of paralytic rabies, according to Angela Richardson, rabies program coordinator for environmental health.
They called animal control, which then notified the health department. The raccoon tested positive for rabies.
Richardson said that the man thought he was doing the right thing by bringing the raccoon to the nature center, but emphasized that calling the health department would be the better option if rabies symptoms are recognized. Richardson also advised avoiding feeding wild animals.
“Wildlife needs to stay wild,” Richardson said.
The last case of rabies was found in a raccoon off Snug Harbor Road in Berlin on July 31. Other recent cases were a fox on Holly Swamp Road in Pocomoke on July 22, a fox on Boston Road in Pocomoke on July 20 and a raccoon off 130th Street in Ocean City on July 8.
The health department says rabies warning signs as “fearfulness, aggression, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, staggering, and seizures.” If these signs are recognized, call the health department at 410-641-9559 and Worcester County Animal Control at 410-632-1340.The health department website includes several recommendations when dealing with suspected rabid animals:
• If you see a wild animal, such as a raccoon, skunk, fox, groundhog, opossum, or a feral cat behaving in a threatening or obviously sick manner, or should your pet be involved in an altercation with one of those animals, report immediately to your local police department or Sheriff’s office.
• Prevent further contact by keeping pets and people away. If a pet or person has already had contact, it is important that the rabies suspect animal be obtained (safely) for rabies testing.
• If a pet has had contact, do not touch the pet barehanded. Make sure the health department is contacted for further instructions if contact has occurred. Your pet’s veterinarian may also be contacted for further advice.
Rabies is most commonly spread through bites. According to the Center for Disease and Control, rabies might not show up in humans for a few weeks. Symptoms typically include pain, fatigue, headaches, fever, hallucinations, seizure and paralysis.
Richardson advises keeping pets current on rabies vaccinations. The health department plans to hold a low-cost vaccination clinic in October.
For more information on rabies, visit worcesterhealth.org.