Rabies is a preventable viral disease of all mammals that is transmitted by the bite of a rabid animal. Rabies is nearly always fatal once symptoms appear. The virus attacks the nervous system and affects the brain and spinal cord. In Maryland, rabies is most frequently found in wildlife, most commonly raccoons, foxes, skunks, and bats. Domestic animals, including livestock, are also at risk, and cats are the most frequently identified rabid domestic animal. The last human rabies case in Maryland occurred in 1976.
The Center for Zoonotic and Vectorborne Diseases (CZVBD) is responsible for the Rabies Prevention and Control Program in Maryland, as mandated by law. In partnership with Maryland's 24 local health departments, CZVBD counts cases of rabies in animals; consults with health care providers on the need for treatment to prevent rabies if a person is exposed to a rabid animal; and provides education to the public about this deadly disease.
To Prevent Rabies:
- Vaccinate your dogs, cats and ferrets regularly.
- Do not let pets roam free.
- Enjoy wildlife from a distance.
- Teach children to stay away from animals they don’t know.
- Cover garbage cans securely and do not leave pet food outside.
- Prevent bats from entering your home.
- Report bites and other animal exposures to your local health department, animal control agency, or police.