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Four rabies cases reported in county

March 08, 2009

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Since the beginning of January, there have been four laboratory confirmed cases of animal rabies reported in Washington County. One case involved a cat; the others, raccoons.

The three raccoons were all found in the area immediately north of Hagerstown -- one on Paradise Church Road, one on Herman Myers Road and one on Marsh Pike. In each incident, the raccoon had attacked a dog.

Area residents are cautioned to remember that rabies is an ever-present threat in Washington County and the surrounding area. Although the main reservoir of disease is in the raccoon population, there is often spillover into other species.

In 2008, there were 12 confirmed cases of rabies in Washington County and the animals involved were raccoons (four), skunks (three), cats (two), foxes (one), muskrats (one) and bats (one).

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The best way to minimize the risk of exposure to rabies is to avoid all contact with wild animals and to make sure that pets are properly vaccinated. All animal bites or scratches should be thoroughly cleaned with soap and water, and anyone who feels that they might have been exposed to rabies should contact the Washington County Health Department's Division of Environmental Health at 240-313-3400.

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