Cumberland Times-News

July 16, 2012

Deer with rabies kicks LaVale woman in the face

Resident recovers from unusual exposure, attack

Michael A. Sawyers
Cumberland Times-News

— LAVALE — The last thing Theresa Stevens expected to happen July 6 was to be kicked in the face by a deer, especially a deer that had rabies.

The Georges Creek Boulevard woman is part way through a series of post-exposure rabies shots that will continue weekly into early August.

Stevens, whose home is directly behind Jolly Roger Discount Liquors, said she had let her Yorkie out of the house at 6 a.m. when she looked up and found herself nose to nose with a deer.

“It stood up on its back legs and hit me in the cheek with one hoof and on the shoulder with the other,” Stevens said.

Stevens pushed the deer away, grabbed her dog, and awakened her husband, Larry, telling him she had been attacked by a deer.

“He thought I was crazy,” she said.

When the Stevenses went back outside, the doe was lying beneath their Toyota Corolla.

“I got it a bucket of water and it stuck its head in it,” Stevens said. “Larry got some video of the deer under the car.”

Eventually, Jim Mullan of the Maryland Wildlife and Heritage Service was called to the scene.

“The deer was emaciated and appeared to have been injured, probably by a vehicle strike,” Mullan said. “It could have been that weakened condition that allowed the deer to become contacted by a rabid animal.”

The deer was euthanized and samples were taken to test for chronic wasting disease and rabies.

Rabies was confirmed July 9 via a laboratory test at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in Baltimore, Mullan said. The CWD results are awaited. CWD is a deer disease and is not known to affect humans.

A determination was made that Stevens, whose hands had small cuts upon them, was exposed to the rabies virus by touching the water in which the deer had placed its head and deposited saliva.

Stevens said she developed a bad headache and muscle pain seven days after the incident and began vaccinations that evening.

“I won’t be hospitable to any more wildlife,” Stevens said.

It is rare for a deer to contract rabies, according to George Timko, a biologist with the Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service.

“The last case we confirmed in the state was in Frederick County three or four years ago,” Timko said Monday. The most likely source of the rabies would be a raccoon, he added.

The biologist said feeding deer, such as with corn, will attract raccoons as well, thus putting those two animals in proximity and increasing the chance that a rabid raccoon could infect a deer.

Contact Michael A. Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.