Current Suspected Overdose Deaths in Delaware for 2020: Get Help Now! logo

Delaware Health Alert Network #37

July 24, 2003 4:15 pm

Health Advisory

The following is content from a media release issued by the Division of Public Health on July 24, 2003. Questions about this advisory should be directed to 1-888-295-5156.

Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) is investigating two recent exposures to rabid animals in Dover and Laurel. DPH advises anyone who may have come in contact with a cat at Lake Shore Village in Kent County or a raccoon in Laurel to immediately seek medical attention and notify DPH's rabies program at 302-744-4545.

A raccoon was found at the 100 block of East Sixth Street in Laurel July 18, where it bit a dog. The Delaware Public Health Laboratory (DPHL) confirmed the raccoon to be positive for rabies July 22. Anyone who handled a raccoon could be at risk for rabies and must receive medical treatment immediately to protect themselves.

An unvaccinated gray cat with a white front and no tail bit a person July 21 near Carrington Drive and Messina Hill Road south of Smyrna. The animal was confirmed to have rabies by DPHL July 23 and the person is receiving treatment. Contact with this cat could put individuals at risk for infection with this disease.

Rabies is a viral disease that attacks the nervous system and is usually fatal in humans without immediate treatment. The disease is spread when a rabid animal's saliva contacts another animal or human through wounds in the skin, typically a bite. Rabid animals in Delaware include raccoons, skunks, bats, groundhogs, foxes, cats and dogs.

The only treatment for rabies is a prompt dose of immune globulin and a series of five rabies vaccinations over a 28-day period. Treatment should begin as soon as possible after a suspected exposure to rabies. Current vaccinations are relatively painless and given in the arm.

DPH urges the public to take the following precautions against rabies:

  • Vaccinate all dogs and cats against rabies, according to law.
  • Children should not handle, feed, approach or play with wild animals.
  • Always walk your dog on a leash.
  • Do not allow your cats or dogs to roam free.
  • Keep garbage in tightly closed trashcans.


  • Immediately wash bite wounds with plenty of soap and water.
  • Get prompt medical attention.
  • Get a description of the animal.
  • Do not try to capture the animal.
  • Report the bite to DPH's Rabies Program at 744-4545

Categories of Health Alert messages:

  • Health Alert: Conveys the highest level of importance; warrants immediate action or attention.
  • Health Advisory: Provides important information for a specific incident or situation; may not require immediate action.
  • Health Update: Provides updated information regarding an incident or situation; unlikely to require immediate action.
NOTE: This page is for informational purposes only and dated material (e.g. temporary websites) may not be available.