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Rabies Prevention

Rabies is a deadly disease that can be transmitted from an animal infected with rabies to unvaccinated pets and to people. If untreated, rabies is almost always fatal. Rabies is known to exist in all counties in Maryland.

In Maryland, rabies is most frequently found in wildlife, most commonly raccoons, foxes, skunks, and bats. Domestic animals, including livestock, are also at risk, and cats are the domestic animal most frequently identified with rabies. The last human rabies case in Maryland occurred in 1976.

To protect you and your family from rabies you should:

  • Protect Your Pets. Maryland State and Calvert County law requires that all dogs, cats, and ferrets be vaccinated at three to four months of age and thereafter, kept current. If your unvaccinated pet is exposed to an animal suspected of having rabies or has a wound from an unknown source, law requires that the animal be either euthanized (humanely put to sleep) or put in quarantine for six months. It is important to keep your pet's rabies vaccination up-to-date at all times.
  • Avoid contact with wild animals or stray domestic animals. Teach your children not to play with or approach any unfamiliar animals. Do not leave pet food outdoors and never feed stray or wild animals. Never pick up injured animals form the roadside.
  • Confine pets to your home or yard. Allowing pets to roam freely is unlawful and may result in a fine.
  • Prevent bats from entering your home. Put screens on windows, caps on chimneys, draft-guards beneath doors to the attic and ensure all doors to the outside close securely. Inspect the inside and outside of your home and seal all holes bigger than a quarter inch. Fill electrical and plumbing holes with stainless steel wool or caulking.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the signs of rabies in animals include:

  • Changes in an animal's behavior
  • Problems swallowing
  • Increase in drool or saliva
  • Wild animals that appear sick, disoriented, fearless or aggressive
  • Difficulty moving or paralysis
  • Wild animals or bats that are usually nocturnal are active during daylight

Rabies is a virus that invades the central nervous system and it can affect all warm- blooded animals, including humans. It is transmitted by the bite of a rabid animal or through the saliva of that animal into a fresh scratch or break in the skin. A series of post-exposure vaccinations can prevent rabies from developing. Once symptoms develop, rabies is almost always fatal.

If you have been bitten or exposed. Immediately wash the wound with soap and running water to reduce the risk of getting rabies. Get the name, address and telephone number of the animal's owner. If you were bitten by a wild animal, or bat, try to capture or confine the animal if you can do so safely. If the animal must be killed, try not to damage the head. Seek medical attention immediately. Notify the Sheriff's Department of all animal bites at 410/535-2800.

In Calvert County, notify the Sheriff's Department of any stray domestic animals in your neighborhood by calling 410-535-2800

For more information on rabies go to the Centers for Disease Control site at


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