Raccoon that attacked Hillview Avenue resident near New Castle tests positive for rabies

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The raccoon was captured and brought back to the DPH Lab, where test results on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, confirmed it had rabies.

NEW CASTLE (DE): A Hillview Avenue resident near New Castle was attacked by a Raccoon while getting into their car, the Department of Health says.

Hillview Avenue is off of Route 9 just south of Wilmington.

According to a news release, the raccoon was captured and brought back to the DPH Lab, where test results on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, confirmed it had rabies.

The individual has begun treatment for rabies exposure.

The DPH says anyone in this area who thinks they might have been bitten, scratched or come in contact with a raccoon should immediately contact their health care provider or call the DPH Rabies Program at 302-744-4995. An epidemiologist is available 24/7. Anyone in the area who thinks their pet may have been bitten by a raccoon should call their private veterinarian or the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) at 302-698-4500 or email deanimalhealth@delaware.gov.

Rabies is a preventable disease
DPH recommends that individuals take the following steps to prevent rabies exposure:

  • All dogs, cats, and ferrets 6 months of age and older are required by Delaware law to be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian.
  • Pet owners can reduce the possibility of pets being exposed to rabies by keeping them indoors and not letting them roam free. It is especially important that pet owners who do allow their cats to roam outdoors vaccinate their pets.
  • Do not touch or otherwise handle wild or unfamiliar animals, including cats and dogs, even if they appear friendly.
  • Do not keep your pet’s food or water outdoors; bowls can attract wild and stray animals.
  • Do not feed feral animals, including cats, as the risk of rabies in wildlife is significant.
  • Spaying or neutering your pet may reduce the tendency to roam or fight and, thus, reduce the chance they will be exposed to rabies.
  • Keep your garbage securely covered.
  • Consider vaccinating livestock and horses as well.

It is recommended to consult with your private veterinarian if you have any questions regarding whether your animal(s) should be vaccinated against rabies.

Since Jan. 1, 2020, the Division of Public Health (DPH) has performed rabies tests on 79 animals, three of which were confirmed to be rabid, including this one raccoon and two cats. DPH only announces those rabies cases for which it is possible the animal had unknown contacts with additional humans or pets.

In 2019, DPH performed rabies tests on 154 animals, nine of which were confirmed to be rabid, including six raccoons, two cats, and one skunk.

Rabies is an infectious disease affecting the nervous system of humans and other mammals. Infection can occur through the bite or scratch of an infected animal or if saliva from such an animal gets into the eyes, nose, mouth or an opening in the skin. Rabies in humans and animals cannot be cured once symptoms appear, and therefore, if an animal that has exposed a human is unavailable to be quarantined or tested, DPH recommends that people receive post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment, a series of four vaccinations, as a precautionary measure.

Animals Behaving AggressivelyEncountering a Sick/Injured AnimalMore Info
  • If you encounter a wild animal behaving aggressively, it is recommended you contact the DNREC’s Wildlife Section at 302-739-9912 or 302-735-3600. Staff will determine whether it is more appropriate to refer callers to a private nuisance wildlife control operator. A listing of nuisance wildlife control operators can be found at https://wildlifehelp.org/.
  • Do not throw items at the animal or make loud banging noises, which may startle the animal and cause it to attack. Instead, your initial response – if the animal is behaving in an aggressive manner or appears to be foaming at the mouth – should be to raise your hands above your head to make yourself appear larger to the animal while slowly backing away from it. If the animal starts coming toward you, raise your voice and yell sternly at it “Get away!” If all that fails, use any means to protect yourself including throwing an object at the animal or trying to keep it away by using a long stick, shovel or fishing pole.
  • If you encounter a stray or feral domestic animal behaving aggressively, contact the Office of Animal Welfare at 302-255-4646.
  • To report a sick or hurt wild animal, Delaware residents are asked to contact the DNREC’s Wildlife Section at 302-739-9912 or 302-735-3600. Staff will determine whether it is more appropriate to refer callers to a permitted volunteer wildlife rehabilitator.
  • If you encounter a sick stray domestic animal (cat or dog) contact the Office of Animal Welfare at 302-255-4646.
For more information on the DPH rabies program, visit http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/dpc/rabies.html or call 1-866-972-9705 or 302-744-4995. For more information on rabies, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/.
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