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Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498
Date: August 14, 2014
DOVER (Aug.13, 2014) - After a confirmed human exposure to a fox with rabies in Brandywine Park on July 30, Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) reminds Delawareans to take precautions against the spread of the disease. The man bitten by the fox received preventive rabies treatment. The fox was the fifth animal in Delaware confirmed positive for rabies in 2014. Sightings of potentially rabid animals occur statewide. Anyone who thinks they may have been bitten, scratched or had saliva contact with any unfamiliar animal should contact their health care provider, or call the DPH Rabies Hotline at 866-972-9705. The decision to pick up and test the animal will be based upon the level of human contact. You may call the Rabies Hotline who will advise on whether the animal will be picked up for testing.
DPH reminds residents that rabies is constantly present in Delaware, with cases occurring in both wildlife and stray pets. Residents should always take precautions against rabies by avoiding wild or unfamiliar animals and ensuring their pets are up-to-date with rabies shots. Warm summer temperatures lead to more outdoor activities, increasing possible exposure to rabies through contact with animals such as bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. Rabies is an infectious disease affecting the nervous system of humans and other mammals. Infection can occur through the bite or scratch of an infected animal or if saliva from such an animal gets into the eyes, nose, mouth or an opening in the skin. Since January 2014, DPH has performed rabies tests on 83 animals, with 5 testing positive. DPH only tests animals for rabies when a human has been bitten, scratched or contacted its saliva. This means there may be many more infected wild animals than suggested by these numbers. Rabies cannot be cured once symptoms appear. Therefore, if a person is potentially exposed by an animal that tests positive for rabies, they will have to receive rabies shots (post exposure prophylaxis) to prevent them from developing the disease.
Signs of rabies in animals include daytime activity in normally nocturnal animals, wild animals approaching humans or other animals, and difficulty walking or moving. Some rabid animals may be very aggressive while others may be very weak and have excessive salivation. Keep people and pets away from any unknown animals.
Take the following steps to avoid rabies:
In an effort to promote 100 percent vaccination of all companion animals in Delaware, decrease human-wildlife conflicts, and promote responsible pet care-taking, DPH also recommends the following:
If you need additional information, please call the Rabies Hotline at 866-972-9705. Individuals seeking TTY services should call 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460. A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind, or speech-disabled can use a TTY to type his/her conversation to a relay operator, who then reads the typed conversation to a hearing person at the DPH call center. The relay operator relays the hearing person's spoken words by typing them back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, drink almost no sugary beverages.
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.