CUMBERLAND — The Allegany County Health Department has confirmed the latest case of a rabid fox with an incident on Mount Savage Road. The health department reported three other cases of rabies in foxes in the LaVale area on Avondale Avenue in April, Braddock Road in May and near the Narrows in August. In each case, a rabid fox approached humans or their pets in broad daylight and was acting aggressively.
Health officials want to remind the public that it is never a good idea to approach any wild animal, especially if it appears to be injured or ill.
Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. In Maryland, rabies is found most often in raccoons, skunks, foxes, cats, bats and groundhogs. All mammals can get rabies. The rabies virus spreads through the saliva of an infected animal. An animal with the rabies virus may be able to spread the virus without showing any signs of the disease. Rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms appear.
Signs and symptoms of rabies include changes in the animal’s behavior such as unusual friendliness or aggressiveness; nocturnal animals being unusually active during the day; and staggering, excessive drooling or even paralysis.
Dogs, cats and ferrets must be vaccinated against rabies by the time the animals are 4 months old according to Maryland law. One year later, animals must be given a second shot. Booster doses of vaccine are needed every one to three years, depending on the vaccine. Rabies vaccines are also approved for horses, cattle and sheep.
Anyone who has been bitten by an animal should wash the wound with soap and water and use a disinfectant solution to flush the wound. Seek medical attention promptly and report the bite or exposure to a local animal control agency, health department or police.
Rabies treatment in humans consists of a series of four vaccinations given in the arm over a one-month period and an injection of rabies immune globulin around the wound.
Get contact information from the animal’s owner and find out if the animal is up to date on its rabies shots. If you can’t find the owner, remember what the animal looked like.
If it is safely possible, capture or confine the animal for testing. If the animal must be killed, try not to damage its head.
If a pet has been bitten, do not touch the animal that caused the bite and avoid touching the pet with bare hands. Exposed pets must be quarantined for 10 days.
For more information on rabies and vaccination clinics, call 301-759-5038.