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Environmental Health Services of the Garrett County Health Department reports the fourth case of laboratory-confirmed rabies for 2020 in Garrett County. An unvaccinated feral barn cat, submitted from the Oakland area to the Maryland Department of Health laboratory, was confirmed positive for rabies on October 1, 2020.

Two weeks prior to the testing of the barn cat, the property owners noticed that the cat had endured trauma to the face. After many attempts of trying to capture the cat, the owners finally succeeded. The owners took the cat to their local veterinarian office where its wounds were treated. The cat displayed mild neurological symptoms and then passed away on its own.

Due to the lack of rabies vaccination and unknown exposure at the time, it was imperative that the cat be tested for rabies immediately. After careful review, it was determined that there was no direct exposure with the barn cat and that post-exposure prophylaxis would not be required.

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

Although the involved cat was a feral barn cat, it is still a legal requirement that all cats, dogs, and ferrets be vaccinated against rabies. Pet owners are urged to check the vaccination records of their pets. Vaccination is necessary after four months of age but can take place as early as 12 weeks of age. Environmental Health Services will be holding a low-cost rabies clinic on October 17, 2020 at the Health Department. Persons with questions regarding rabies or rabies clinics should call Environmental Health Services at 301-334-7760.