SUSSEX COUNTY, Del. - Delaware's Division of Public Health is warning Sussex County residents, who live in the area surrounding Angola Crest II, of a positive case of rabies in a raccoon that bit a human earlier this week.
Officials say the raccoon was captured and brought to the D.P.H. lab, where test results confirming it had rabies came back on Friday. The victim was reportedly bitten after the raccoon went into the person's home through a pet door. The individual has started treatment for the bite.
In addition, animals in the home, who were all up to date on rabies vaccines, are currently under quarantine following potential exposure. Anyone in the area who thinks they may have been bitten, scratched or come into contact with a raccoon should call their health care provider or the D.P.H. 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 at 302-698-4630.
Rabies Prevention Tips:
• Stay away from wild and feral animals, regardless of whether or not the animal seems "friendly." Not all rabid animals show the classic signs of the rabies illness, such as aggression, depression or other abnormal behavior.
• Make sure your pets are up to date with rabies shots.
• Keep pets indoors or, while outside, supervise them on a leash.
Since Jan. 1, D.P.H. has performed rabies tests on four animals; this is reportedly the first positive case for 2018. In 2017, DPH says it performed rabies tests on 143 animals, 16 of which were confirmed to be rabid, including five raccoons, six cats, two dogs, two bats and one fox. Six of the positive rabies cases involved a bite to humans. DPH says that it only announces those rabies cases in which it is possible the animal had unknown contacts with humans and there is a risk of exposure to the community.
Officials say that rabies in humans and animals cannot be cured once symptoms show up. If the animal is of unknown origin, or unavailable to be quarantined or tested, the Division of Public Health says that people should get 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 an important factor in rabies prevention.
• All dogs, cats and ferrets six 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.
For more information on the Delaware Division of Public Health's rabies program, people can visit here or call 1-866-972-9705 or 302-744-4995. For more information on rabies, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here.
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