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One person scratched by the stray cat is being treated; Health Department seeks public’s help identifying other people who may have been exposed
LARGO, MD— The Prince George’s County Health Department is alerting community members about a recent rabies exposure in Riverdale, MD. On or around April 3rd, 2020, a stray cat scratched an individual near the 5800 block of 67th Ave in Riverdale. The stray cat is described as an orange tabby, domestic short hair. The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) confirmed that the cat tested positive for rabies on April 8th. The individual exposed to the rabid cat has begun rabies post-exposure prophylaxis. As a precaution, additional stray cats found in the area will also be taken in for testing.
Due to the risk of rabies exposure, the Health Department seeks the public’s help in identifying any persons who may have had contact with the confirmed rabid cat or additional stray cats in that area. If you know of any persons or animals that may have had contact with the above cat between March 22nd and April 3rd, please contact the Health Department immediately at 301-583-3750.
“Rabies is often a life-threatening disease; however, it is highly preventable by beginning post-exposure treatment immediately following exposure. Treatment is determined by the type of animal contact and patient assessment,” said Dr. Ernest Carter, Prince George’s County Health Officer. “Rabies is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal and is easily transmissible through a bite of an infected animal. The best method to eliminate the risk of rabies exposure is to avoid contact with unfamiliar animals. We encourage community members to report any unusual or erratic animal behavior they notice and to avoid handling and feeding any unknown animals in their community.”
When a person is bitten or exposed to the saliva of a rabid animal, the disease is prevented by administering four doses of rabies vaccine over a 14-day period, and a dose of rabies immunoglobulin given at the beginning of treatment. Each year, approximately 900 Marylanders receive preventive treatment after exposure to a rabid or potentially rabid animal.
To prevent your exposure to rabies:
If you are bitten by or exposed to an animal that may be rabid, you should take the following steps:
To learn more about rabies in Maryland, including rabies surveillance statistics and efforts to prevent and control the disease, please visit the MDH website.