Rabies Exposures and Animal Bite Investigations PDF Print E-mail
Environmental Health Program
Isle of Wight Center
Phone: 410-641-9559
Hours: 8 am to 4:30 pm
After Hours: Call your local law enforcement agency or 911


If you have been bitten or scratched by an animal, or if you find a bat in the living area of your home, or your pet has been exposed to a rabies suspect animal such as raccoons, foxes, skunks, opossums, groundhogs, stray cats, contact our office for further assistance.

Rabies Exposures

If you see a wild animal, such as a raccoon, skunk, fox, groundhog, opossum, or a feral cat behaving in a threatening or obviously sick manner or should your pet be involved in an altercation with one of those animals – REPORT IMMEDIATELY to your local police department or Sheriff’s office.  PREVENT further contact by keeping pets and people away.  If a pet or person has already had contact, it is important that the rabies suspect animal be obtained (safely) for rabies testing.  If a pet has had contact, DO NOT TOUCH the pet BAREHANDED.  Make sure the Health Department is contacted for further instructions, if contact has occurred.  Your pet’s veterinarian may also be contacted for further advice.

Confirmed Rabid Animals in Worcester


While raccoons make up the vast majority of confirmed rabid animals in Worcester County (and in Maryland), other species are also infected. Many people are not aware that the most frequent domestic animals to contract rabies are cats. 

Year Total Confirmed Species
2014 8 6 raccoons, 1 fox, 1 bat
2013 46 40 raccoons, 3 foxes, 1 groundhog, 1 bat, 1 dog
2012 19 16 raccoons, 2 foxes, 1 groundhog
2011 16 11 raccoons, 2 skunks, 2 groundhogs, 1 cat
2010 26 18 raccoons, 6 foxes, 2 cats
2009 52 45 raccoons, 5 foxes, 1 opossum, 1 cat

Many of these confirmed rabid animals, as well as many other suspect animals that were unable to be tested, had contact with pets or people. It is extremely important that pets' rabies vaccinations stay current and that these encounters are reported so that testing and proper rabies risk assessments can be made for the people and pets involved.

  • Worcester County map of Laboratory Confirmed Rabid Animals found 2009-2013, click here.
  • For a line by line listing of laboratory confirmed positive rabies cases and suspect positive rabies investigations for 2013, click here.
  • For a line by line listing of laboratory confirmed positive rabies cases and suspect positive rabies investigations for 2014, click on this link for the 2014 Rabies Report.
  • For more information about rabies in Maryland, visit http://ideha.dhmh.md.gov/OIDEOR/CZVBD/SitePages/rabies.aspx


Rabies Clinics

The Worcester County Health Department together with
Worcester County Animal Controloffers rabies clinics throughout the county.  Call Animal Control at 410-632-1340 or our office at 410-352-3234 (or 410-641-9559 from Pocomoke) to ask about our upcoming clinics. The next round of clinics will be held in the fall 2014.

The cost per pet is $5 for Worcester County residents and $10 per pet for non residents. Please bring proof of residency. Dogs must be on leashes and under the control of an adult. Cats and ferrets must be in carriers with air holes. If this is not your pet's first vaccination, please bring proof of previous vaccination.

Maryland and Worcester County laws require rabies vaccinations for all cats, dogs and ferrets four months and older.


General Information about Rabies

“YEP!!  My pets all have their rabies shots, I think they were last done back in…???”

Does this sound like you, or somebody you know?  Do you know where your pets’ rabies shot certificates are, or are they 'somewhere with all the other stuff'?  Rabies is a deadly disease and once obvious symptoms appear, it is nearly always deadly.  Dogs, cats, and ferrets over the age of 12 weeks are all required to get their rabies shot.   Click on picture to the left to read the brochure.

Until raccoon rabies spread to the general East Coast in the 1980s – a result of hunters unknowingly introducing sick raccoons from Florida, rabies was less of a threat to our pets and wildlife.  However, the days of the ‘easy keeper barn cats’ are over. Stray cats have become the fourth highest carrier of rabies in the state of Maryland, a natural link between wildlife and people. Stray cats compete with raccoons for food, and cat food left outside for poor ‘Tomcat’ is likely also keeping ‘Rocky Raccoon’ fat and happy – and neither will let you know when they return to your doorstep rabid…

Worcester County Animal Control along with Worcester County Environmental Health, work to offer low-cost rabies shot clinics.  Each year clinics are held at various locations in the county in an effort to reach as many of our pet owners as possible.  The clinics are open to everyone; however, out-of-county residents pay a higher fee.

When the first rabies shot is given, your pet will start building its own protection against the rabies virus and will be considered protected 28 days later.  This initial shot is only good for one year.  The following year most pets will receive a booster shot  which, if proof of previous rabies shot is given, will usually be good for a three-year period.


Bats and Rabies

People do not usually know when they have been bitten by a bat. However, because bats have small teeth which may leave marks that arealt not easily seen, there are situations in which you should seek medical advice even in the absence of an obvious bite wound. For example, if you awaken and find a bat in your room, see a bat in the room of an unattended child, or see a bat near a mentally impaired or intoxicated person, contact our Office at 410-641-9559.  After hours, contact your local police department or dial 410-632-1311 for further assistance.

For assistance with bat colonies not inside the living area of the home (attics, eves) contact Maryland Department of Natural Resources Wildlife and Heritage Service at www.dnr.md.us/wildlife. Search for "bats in houses." Or call 1-877-463-6497. 

To learn more about the dangers of exposure to bats and rabies, visit  www.cdc.gov/rabies/bats/education/




This information is provided by the Environmental Health Program.

Last Updated on Monday, 04 August 2014 09:09


Salisbury, MD. – Dorchester, Somerset, Sussex, Wicomico and Worcester counties invite 
the public to Emergency Preparedness Night on August 23rd at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium.
The Delmarva Shorebirds will play against the Asheville Tourists at 7:05 p.m.
Representatives from local health departments, emergency management agencies, and 
volunteer organizations will host exhibit booths promoting emergency preparedness 
before and during the baseball game. 
Come out to the ballpark to support the Shorebirds and learn how you can be better 
prepared for life’s curve balls. 
The event is co-sponsored by the health departments and emergency management offices 
of Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester Counties, Ocean City and the Maryland
and Delaware Offices of Emergency Management. 
Snow Hill, Maryland- August 1, 2014.  Get fit, lose weight, and improve your health with certified lifestyle coaches through group sessions beginning August 25th in Snow Hill.  The Lifestyle Balance Program is a year-long, healthy eating, physical activity, and weight loss program that has been proven effective in reducing the risk for type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases, assisting in weight loss and maintenance of a healthy body weight, and decreasing the risk for heart disease and stroke.  
Baltimore, MD (August 11, 2014) --State and local officials have been working since last year to prepare Maryland parents and schools for new school immunization requirements for students entering kindergarten and 7th grade this fall.  All kindergartners must have had two chickenpox (varicella) vaccinations.  All 7th graders must receive a pertussis booster (Tdap) and dose of meningitis vaccines.  School officials and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) are urging parents to make sure their child is appropriately immunized against these diseases prior to the start of school.  Children may be excluded from school if they do not have these vaccinations.
“We have spent the past year helping parents and schools prepare for these school immunization requirements,"  said Dr. Laura Herrera, Deputy Secretary for DHMH Public Health Services.  "We want to be sure all Maryland children start the school year with up-to-date vaccinations and are ready to learn.”
Immunizations are one of public health’s greatest triumphs.  With the exception of safe water, no other health strategy-- not even the creation of antibiotics--has had such a tremendous effect on reducing disease.  Despite the availability of safe and effective immunizations, thousands of cases of vaccine-preventable diseases occur in the United States every year.  Consider the following facts about varicella, pertussis and meningitis: 
Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease that can be spread before a person knows they have the disease.
Chickenpox can lead to serious complications, including pneumonia and brain damage.
One out of five people who get meningococcal meningitis experience serious complications, such as the loss of limb(s), permanent hearing loss, or mental impairment.
In recent years, adolescents (11-18 yrs) and adults (19 yrs and older) have accounted for an increasing proportion of pertussis cases. 
Infants who are at highest risk for complications and death due to pertussis are often infected by older siblings, parents or caregivers who might not even know they have the disease.
In preparation for the new requirements, local health departments are holding special back-to-school clinics throughout the state.  Parents should call their doctor or local health department to learn if their child needs any of the school-required vaccinations and make arrangements to receive the missing vaccines so their child will not be excluded from school.

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