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The original item was published from 1/26/2021 4:57:37 PM to 2/27/2021 12:00:05 AM.

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Posted on: January 26, 2021

[ARCHIVED] Health Department Issues Rabies Alert in Prince George’s County

Health Department seeks public’s help identifying other people and animals that may have been exposed to a rabid raccoon in Fairmount Heights

LARGO, MD— On or around January 17, 2021, two stray dogs (a black and white male Pitbull and a brown female Pitbull) may have been exposed to rabies during a possible encounter with a rabid raccoon on the 6100 block of Kolb Street in Fairmount Heights. The raccoon was captured and then tested positive for rabies on January 20th at the Maryland State Lab. The Prince George’s County Health Department is aware that the black and white dog was picked up by an unknown citizen, and the brown dog is still running loose in the neighborhood.

Due to the risk of exposure to rabies, the department is seeking the public’s help in finding any persons or animals that may have had contact with the raccoon or the dogs.

Please call the Health Department immediately at (301) 583-3750 (or call 240-508-5774 after 4:30 p.m. or on weekends/holidays) if you, someone you know, or your pet may have been in contact with either the raccoon or the two dogs so that an assessment can be completed. All residents are advised to be aware of their surroundings and avoid contact with wild or stray animals.

“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.

Watch for the first signs of rabies in animals. These may include a marked change in behavior such as appearing unusually tame or extremely aggressive, staggering, convulsions, frothing at the mouth, gradual paralysis, and change in voice. Get your pet vaccinated, particularly if you live in/around the above listed area.

In addition, please contact the Health Department immediately if you reside in/around the above neighborhood and your pet becomes sick or dies within the next four months.


Rabies is a disease that is always fatal in humans once symptoms develop. To protect yourself and your family from rabies, you should:

1.   If bitten or scratched by any wild or domestic animal, wash the wound with soap and water for 10 to 15 minutes and contact a healthcare provider immediately to determine if further medical treatment is required.  If necessary, post-exposure rabies shots may be administered.

2.   Call the Police Department immediately to report the possible exposure.

3.   Keep your pets’ vaccinations up to date at all times. State and County laws require that all dogs, cats, and ferrets be vaccinated at four months of age and thereafter kept current.

4.   Avoid contact with any wild or stray animals. Warn your children not to play with or approach any unfamiliar animals.

5.   Confine pets to your home or yard. Allowing your pets to roam freely is unlawful and may result in a fine.

6.   Notify the Animal Management Division at 301-780-7200 of ANY sick/stray animals in your neighborhood.

PET OWNERS BEWARE: If your UNVACCINATED cat or dog is exposed to a rabid or suspected rabid animal, or has a wound from an unknown source, the law requires that the animal be euthanized (humanely put to sleep) or put in strict isolation for six months. Veterinarians are required to report such exposures to the Health Department.  

 Additional tips to prevent your exposure to rabies:

  • Cover garbage cans tightly and do not leave pet food outside; this may attract wild and stray animals.

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