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 7 5 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 postive 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 spring 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 Thursday, 17 July 2014 13:37


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