Charles County Health Department Warns of Recent Wildlife Testing Positive for Rabies Near in the La Plata and Newburg Area

December 28, 2020

Recently, the Charles County Health Department reported three raccoons had tested positive for rabies in the Newburg and La Plata areas of Charles County.

They would like to remind our residents to stay vigilant and avoid contact with wildlife and unknown domestic animals. If you or your pet is bitten, please contact the Health Department, Animal Control, or local police department and seek immediate medical attention and/or prompt veterinary services.

In Maryland, rabies is most often found in raccoons, skunks, foxes, cats, bats, and groundhogs. Other mammals including dogs, ferrets, and farm animals can get rabies if they are not vaccinated. Rabies is rarely reported in rabbits and small rodents, such as squirrels, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, chipmunks, rats, and mice.

Rabies is usually spread to humans through the bite of an infected (“rabid”) animal. Other possible exposures include getting infected saliva from a rabid animal into an open wound or in the eyes, nose, or mouth. Rabies is not spread by petting a rabid animal or contact with blood, urine, or feces (stool).

Rabies in animals causes paralysis and changes in behavior. Animals may become very aggressive or unusually friendly. Muscles of the throat and jaw may become paralyzed and cause drooling. Seizures are common.

In humans, the virus causes fever, headaches, unusual tingling sensation, confusion, tightening of the throat muscles, hydrophobia (fear of water), and seizures. The disease rapidly progresses to paralysis, coma, and death. Rabies is almost always fatal. Rabies in humans can be prevented by getting rabies shots.

For more information of Rabies, click here to read the Maryland Department of Health information flyer.