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Rabies precautions

May 18, 1997

Public health officials recommend taking some precautions to protect yourself from exposure to rabies:

  • Stay away from wildlife and animals you don't know. "Everyday we get calls from someone who's petted a stray cat" and then gets worried, Maryland's public health veterinarian Dr. Clifford Johnson said.
  • Unusual behavior in an animal can be a symptom of rabies. For instance, normally nocturnal animals like raccoons might appear in broad daylight, a bat might fall to the ground and flop around or a wild animal might appear friendly to humans, Johnson said.
  • People can be bitten by a bat and not know it. If you wake up in the morning and there's a bat in your bedroom go for treatment or catch the bat and have it tested, he advised.


Put gloves on before you handle your pet if it has been in a fight with a wild animal, Washington County Health Department Sanitarian Rebecca Sauceda said. Wash your hands afterward with soap and water.

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The rabies virus can live up to two hours on a surface but it needs a host to remain alive, Sauceda said.

  • Even pets like cats that remain exclusively indoors should get rabies shots because they can get bit by a bat inside the house, she said.


A rabies clinic will be held in the Lions Club Park in Smithsburg on May 22 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Rabies shots will be offered for $5 to dogs, cats and ferrets, Sauceda said.

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