With the recent cases of rabies infection, we have been asked to call it in is as soon as possible, if we see wildlife acting strangely, they should.

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.

Residents should be vigilant and educated on rabies and wildlife in a way that creates the best harmony that can be achieved between the native wildlife species and residents. We currently provide two free rabies clinics a year for College Park Residents, and the City also implements a TNR program that vaccinates stray cats for rabies.

City is working with PG County and the State to see if more can be done or if more resources can be available. The Center for Zoonotic and Vector-borne Diseases and the Prince George’s County Health Department are the expert sources of information. They are responsible for preventing and controlling any diseases in Maryland. Our staff are reporting and sending all appropriate information for them to collect and decide whether this situation needs to be mitigated. The links to the County Health Department website and the MD Dept of Health Website are below if anyone wants to reach out to get any information.

https://www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/departments-offices/corrections/re-entry-process/useful-information/health-department

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

In the meantime, it is important to share information regarding preventing rabies and recognizing the signs of rabies. Wildlife is at its most active right now, we are in the season of wildlife raising young, and hunting for food more to feed those young. We can help by emphasizing that pet owners need to get their pets up to date on rabies if they are out of date and monitor their pets while they are outside. Also not leaving food or trash accessible for wildlife on their property is helpful.

From MD Dept of Health:

“Exposure to rabies can be prevented.
• Do not approach, handle, or feed wild or stray 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 that 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.”
From the CDC:
https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/animals/index.html

How can you tell if an animal has rabies?
You cannot tell if an animal has rabies by just looking at it—the only way to know for sure if an animal (or a person) has rabies is to perform laboratory testing. However, animals with rabies may act strangely. Some may be aggressive and try to bite you or other animals, or they may drool more than normal. (This is sometimes shown in movies as animals “foaming at the mouth.”) But not all animals with rabies will be aggressive or drooling. Other animals may act timid or shy, move slowly or act tame, or let you get close to them. Because that is not the way wild animals usually act, you should remember that something could be wrong. Some animals may not appear ill. For the health and safety of wildlife, your pets, and yourself, leave wild animals alone, including baby animals.
The best thing to do is to never feed or approach a wild animal. Be careful of pets that you do not know. If you see a stray dog or cat, do not pet it. This is especially important if you are traveling in a country where rabies in dogs is common. And if any animal is acting strangely, call your local animal control officer for help. Some things to look for are:
• general sickness
• problems swallowing
• excessive drool or saliva
• an animal that is overly aggressive
• an animal that bites at imaginary objects (sometimes called “fly biting”)
an animal that appears