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Feral cat tests positive for rabies


LEONARDTOWN, MD - The St. Mary’s County Health Department reported Wednesday, March 4 that a feral cat captured in a Breton Bay subdivision has tested positive for rabies. The test results were confirmed by the State’s laboratory at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in Baltimore. Residents are asked to report any animal exposures involving people to the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office at 301-475-8008. Suspected animal bites to pets or livestock should be reported to St. Mary’s County Animal Control at 301-475-8018.

Rabies is a preventable viral disease most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The health department investigates reports of animal bites and, based on the outcome of the investigation, provides post-exposure treatment to people who are at risk for contracting the disease.

“As a general reminder, we are advising all county residents to check their pets’ vaccine records and reminding pet owners that responsible pet ownership includes keeping pets indoors, using a leash or having a fenced yard,” stated Ann Rose, health department rabies control program director. “Because of our rural setting, it is important that our residents remember that rabies exists in St. Mary’s County, and encounters with feral or wild animals is inevitable.”

The following precautions will protect your pets and family members from the threat of rabies:
Be sure your pet has up-to-date rabies shots. Maryland law requires that all cats, dogs and ferrets four-months and older have current rabies shots. Low-cost rabies clinics are provided by the health department and St. Mary’s Animal Welfare League (SMAWL) during March – November. The next rabies clinic is scheduled for Monday, March 9 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds
Keep pets in your home or yard and walk them on a leash. County law requires that all dogs four-months and older be licensed.
Never approach or touch animals unknown to you.
Do not feed pets outdoors. Pet food and other food sources such as unsecured garbage cans may attract unwanted and unhealthy animals into your yard.
For more information about rabies and the rabies vaccination clinics, visit the health department’s website at www.smchd.org.

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