Environmental Health Services of the Garrett County Health Department reports the first case of laboratory-confirmed rabies in the county for 2019. A raccoon, submitted from the Accident area to the Maryland Department of Health laboratory, was confirmed positive for rabies on February 8, 2019.

Earlier in the week, the property owner witnessed their two dogs with a deceased raccoon at the house. After a quick observation of the dogs, the owner determined that an altercation occurred between the raccoon and at least one of the dogs. Following the proper procedure, the owner did not come in contact with the raccoon nor did they handle the dogs within two hours of the event. Both dogs were currently vaccinated against rabies, so a booster was administered by their veterinarian.

As properly demonstrated in this event, it is important to remember if your pet is exposed to a wild animal, do not handle your pet within two hours after contact. If it is necessary to handle your pet, you need to wear protective gloves and immediately wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. If you have been bitten by a wild animal that cannot be captured or you have been exposed to an animal suspected of having rabies, seek medical treatment immediately.

Pet owners are urged to check the vaccination status of their dogs, cats, and ferrets. All dogs and cats are required, by law, to be vaccinated against rabies by four months of age and can be vaccinated as early as three months. The Garrett County Health Department will hold the first series of low-cost rabies clinics for 2019 in May. All dogs, cats, and ferrets at least three months of age are eligible for vaccination. Persons with questions regarding rabies or rabies clinics should call Environmental Health Services at 301-334-7760 or 301-895-3111 Ext. 7760.