Raccoon That Bit Rehoboth Beach Man Test Positive For Rabies

Delaware’s Division of Public Health (DPH) is warning residents of the King’s Creek community and surrounding areas in Rehoboth Beach of a positive case of rabies in a raccoon who bit a human last week. The raccoon was captured and brought to the DPH Lab, where test results confirming it had rabies came back on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. The victim, who was putting up holiday decorations in his yard, was bitten by the raccoon who was hidden in some bushes. The individual has begun treatment for the bite.

Anyone who thinks they might have been bitten, scratched or come in contact with a raccoon should immediately contact their health care

provider or call the DPH Rabies Program at 302-744-4995. An epidemiologist is available 24/7. Also anyone who thinks their pet may have been bitten by this raccoon should call their private veterinarian or the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) at 302-698-4630.

Residents should take precautions against rabies by:
• Avoiding wild and feral animals, regardless of whether or not the animal seems “friendly.” Not all rabid animals exhibit the classic signs of the rabies illness, such as aggression, depression or other abnormal behavior.
• Ensuring their pets are up to date with rabies shots.
• Keeping pets indoors or, while outside, supervising them on a leash.

Since January 2017, DPH has performed rabies tests on 137 animals, 17 of which were confirmed to be rabid, including five raccoons, seven cats, two dogs, two bats and one fox. Six of the positive rabies cases involved a bite to humans. DPH only announces those rabies cases in which it is possible the animal had unknown contacts with humans.

Rabies in humans and animals cannot be cured once symptoms appear. If the animal is of unknown origin, or unavailable to be quarantined or tested, the Division of Public Health recommends that people receive post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment, a series of four vaccinations, as a precautionary measure.
Rabies is an infectious disease affecting the nervous system of humans and other mammals. Infection can occur through the bite or scratch of an infected animal or if saliva from such an animal gets into the eyes, nose, mouth or an opening in the skin.

Fortunately, rabies is also almost 100 percent preventable. DPH recommends that members of the public take the necessary steps to stay clear of exposure to rabies. Rabies prevention starts with the animal owner. Vaccination of pets and livestock is a crucial factor in rabies prevention.

• All dogs, cats and ferrets 6 months of age and older are required by Delaware law to be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian. Consider
vaccinating livestock and horses. It is recommended to consult with your private veterinarian if you have any questions regarding whether your animal(s)
should be rabies vaccinated.
• Pet owners can reduce the possibility of pets being exposed to rabies by not letting them roam free.
• Spaying or neutering your pet may reduce the tendency

to roam or fight and thus reduce the chance they will be exposed to rabies.
• Do not keep your pet’s food or water outdoors; bowls can attract wild and stray animals.
• Keep your garbage securely covered.
• Do not handle unfamiliar animals, including cats and dogs, even if they appear friendly.


Source: Delaware Health and Social Services

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First State Update's Delaware editorial team covers New Castle County, Kent County and Sussex County breaking news, political news, and general news stories. We bring the reader the latest news from the Wilmington, Newark, Dover, Rehoboth Beach and all point in between. If you have news to share, email us at desk@firststateupdate.com.

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