Rabid Raccoon Alert in Prince George’s County

LARGO, MD—The Prince George’s County Health Department is alerting community members that a deceased rabid raccoon was recently found in the Hollywood West neighborhood of College Park. Between May 6 and May 8, the raccoon was seen at multiple locations in the neighborhood exhibiting unusual behavior. The deceased racoon was picked up on May 8, 2024, on the 9600 Block of 49th Avenue in College Park by College Park Animal Control. The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) confirmed that the raccoon tested positive for rabies on May 10, 2024.  

The Health Department seeks the public’s help in finding individuals who may have had contact with the raccoon in the identified area. If you know of any persons or animals that may have had contact with a raccoon in this area between April 27 and May 8, 2024, please contact the Health Department immediately at 301-583-3751 or 240-508-5774 after 4:30 p.m. on holidays or weekends.  

“While it is not uncommon to see higher levels of activity among wildlife at this time of year, we continue to work with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and City of College Park to explore solutions to the prevention of rabies in the racoon population of College Park,” says Dr. Matthew D. Levy, Prince George’s County Health Officer. “Rabies is a life-threatening disease that is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal, usually through a bite or scratch. Rabies can be prevented after an exposure by starting preventive treatment as soon as possible. The best way to prevent exposure to rabies is to avoid contact with unfamiliar animals and ensure household pets are vaccinated for rabies. Community members should report unusual animal behavior and avoid handling or feeding 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 with 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 exposure to rabies: 

  • Do not approach, handle, or feed stray dogs and cats, and enforce and follow leash laws. 
  • Teach your children to stay away from wild animals and animals they do not know. 
  • Vaccinate dogs, cats, and ferrets 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. 
  • Wear gloves when handling an animal that 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. 
  • Use window screens and chimney caps and close any openings greater than ¼ inch by ½ inch to prevent bats from entering your home. Bats found in the home should be safely collected, if possible, and tested for rabies. 

If you are bitten by or exposed to an animal, 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. 
  • Report exposures to your local animal control agency, health department, or police. 
  • Immediately wash the wound well with soap and water; if available, use a disinfectant to flush the wound. 
  • Get prompt medical attention. 
  • 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 an unattended child, person with an intellectual disability, 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 MDH website here: 

https://phpa.health.maryland.gov/OIDEOR/CZVBD/Pages/rabies.aspx .