Take Precaution: Rabid Bats on the Rise!

Fast Facts: to date Maryland has confirmed 100 rabid bats in 2016; approximately 900 Marylanders receive preventative treatment for rabies exposure each year. 

It’s the 10th Annual Worlds Rabies Day and the Worcester County Health Department is spreading rabies awareness and prevention information. As Maryland is seeing a rise in rabid bats, the health department has shared tips for dealing wild bats as well as what to do if exposed to a potentially rabid animal.

For the second consecutive year, Maryland is experiencing an increase in the number of rabid bats. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is promoting the World Rabies Day theme of “Rabies: Educate. Vaccinate. Eliminate.” to increase awareness about the world’s most fatal disease and how to prevent it.

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. This year so far, there have been 100 confirmed rabid bats in the state.

“Rabies is a serious disease transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal, such as a bat. It is nearly always fatal without the provision of preventive treatment.”said Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services Dr. Howard Haft. “Residents who encounter sick, injured or nuisance wildlife should be sure to avoid contact with the animal and to report it by calling toll-free in Maryland: 1-877-463-6497.”

When a person is bitten by a rabid animal or is exposed to its saliva, onset of the disease is prevented by the provision of a rabies vaccine series administered in a 14-day period and a dose of rabies immunoglobulin given at the beginning of that series. Each year, approximately 900 Marylanders receive preventive treatment after exposure to (potentially) rabid animals.

If you or your pet has been bitten or otherwise exposed to a rabid or suspected rabid domestic animal, get the owner’s name, address and telephone number. Contact your local health department or animal control agency immediately.

Residents who need to report sick, injured or nuisance wildlife should contact the Maryland Department of Natural Resources at 410-260-8540 or 1-877-463-6497 for assistance; for after-hours wildlife emergencies, call 1-800-628-9944.

For more information visit:
The Worcester County Health Department
Department of Health and Mental Hygiene – Center for Zoonotic and Vectorborne Diseases
Department of Natural Resources – Tips for Reporting Nuisance, Injured or Sick Wildlife