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The original item was published from 6/30/2017 1:32:03 PM to 10/1/2017 12:00:03 AM.

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Posted on: June 30, 2017

[ARCHIVED] Rabid Kitten Alert

Local health officials are warning community members about a recent rabies exposure in the community and urging community members to remember important animal safety tips.

LARGO, MD—Prince George’s County Health Department and local health officials are alerting community members to a recent rabies exposure in Laurel, MD.  On or around June 24, 2017, a stray kitten bit and scratched individuals near the 9000 block of Cherry Lane in Laurel. The kitten is described as a brown tabby domestic short haired kitten with distinctive dark stripes and dots. The kitten appeared to have bite wounds and was transported to a local veterinarian for treatment. The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) confirmed that the kitten tested positive for rabies on June 27th, 2017. This year, 12 cats in the state of Maryland have tested positive for rabies.

"Rabies is a serious disease transmitted in the saliva of infected animals and is nearly always fatal without preventive treatment. While the disease can be prevented following exposure to a rabid animal with the proper post-exposure prophylaxis and wound care, it is imperative this treatment begin as soon as possible," said Dr. Jacquelyn Duval-Harvey, Deputy Health Officer of the Prince George’s County Health Department.  "The decision to give prophylaxis to a person exposed to a rabid animal depends on the type of contact the individual had with the animal. Public health and healthcare personnel will make the final decision based on assessment of the patient."

Due to the risk of exposure to rabies, the Prince George’s County Health Department seeks the public’s help in finding any persons who may have had contact with the kitten. The initial victim and persons potentially exposed to the kitten have begun rabies post-exposure treatment. If you know of any persons or animals that may have had contact with the above kitten between June 10th and June 25th, please contact the Health Department immediately at 301-583-3750. 

When a person is bitten or exposed to the saliva of a rabid animal, the disease is prevented with a four dose rabies vaccine series administered over a 14 day period and a dose of rabies immunoglobulin given at the beginning of the series (rabies post-exposure prophylaxis). Each year, approximately 900 Marylanders receive preventive treatment after exposure to a rabid or potentially rabid animal.

To prevent your exposure to rabies:

  • Do not approach, handle or feed stray dogs and cats and enforce leash laws.
  • Teach your children not to approach any unfamiliar animals.
  • Have your dogs, cats and ferrets vaccinated against rabies and keep the vaccinations up-to-date.
  • Do not leave pets outside unattended or allow them to roam free.
  • Cover garbage cans tightly and do not leave pet food outside; this may attract wild and stray animals.
  • Teach children to stay away from wild animals or animals they do not know.
  • Prevent bats from entering your home by using window screens and chimney caps and by closing any openings greater than ¼ inch by ½ inch. Bats found in the home should be safely collected, if possible, and tested for rabies.
  • Wear gloves when handling an animal if it has been in a fight with another animal. Keep it away from people and other animals and call your veterinarian or local health department to report the animal exposure.

If you are bitten by or exposed to an animal that may be rabid, you should take the following steps:

  • If it is a wild animal, try to trap it if you can do so safely. If the animal must be killed, try not to damage the head.
  • If it is an owned animal, get the animal owner’s name, address, and telephone number.
  • Immediately wash the wound well with soap and water; if available, use a disinfectant to flush the wound.
  • Get prompt medical attention.
  • Immediately report the exposure to your local animal control agency, health department, or police.
  • Consider treatment if a bat was present and exposure cannot be reasonably ruled out (e.g., a sleeping person awakens to find a bat in the room, or an adult sees a bat in the room with a previously unattended child or mentally disabled or intoxicated person).

To learn more about rabies in Maryland, including rabies surveillance statistics and efforts to prevent and control the disease, please visit the DHMH website .

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