WORCESTER CO., Md. - A family dog had to be put to sleep after it reportedly got rabies from a rabid raccoon.
The Worcester County Health Department says a family dog, from the Snow Hill area, fought with a raccoon several weeks ago, and then later developed symptoms of rabies. The family contacted Worcester County Animal Control, and based on the symptoms, and the exposure to the raccoon, the dog was euthanized, and sent for testing.
The positive results came back on Friday. Officials say a number of people were exposed to the rabid dog, mostly family, so "appropriate medical assessments were initiated and post exposure rabies treatment started."
Officials are urging owners to get their pets properly vaccinated, to avoid this from happening again.
"Please protect your animals, the rabies shots are available at any veterinary office and rabies clinics," says Janet Tull, rabies coordinator with the Worcester County Health Department. "It's one of those things that the law requires it, and there's a reason that the law requires it."
Tull says that many people do not realize these are vaccinations that expire, and pet-owners need to make sure that they keep up on the shots.
"This is a disease unlike other pet diseases because it can be transmitted to humans and it's a deadly disease."
Worcester County says they have seen a high incidence of rabid animals this year, 43 in total, consisting of 37 raccoons, 3 foxes, 1 groundhog, 1 bat, and this dog. Officials say this doesn't include 36 other suspected rabid animals that they couldn't test.
Maryland law requires that dogs, cats, and ferrets, be vaccinated for rabies. The Health Department also wants to stress the importance of notifying officials of any contact between a person or pet and a suspect rabid animal. Owners should wear gloved when dealing with a pet whom they think has had contact with a rabid animal.
For further information regarding rabies in Worcester County, visit the Worcester County Health Department's website or contact your veterinarian.