LEONARDTOWN, Md. – The St. Mary’s County Health Department (SMCHD) reports that a fox captured near Hilton Drive in the Lexington Park area has tested positive for rabies. The test results were confirmed by the State’s laboratory at the Maryland Department of Health in Baltimore. The fox may have exposed a feral cat population in the area to the viral disease.

Rabies is a potentially fatal virus that is transmitted through the saliva of an infectious animal.  Residents should not approach or feed wild or unknown animals.

Please 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.

As a general reminder, 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 SMCHD and St. Mary’s Animal Welfare League (SMAWL) from March – November.

• Keep pets in your home or yard and walk them on a leash.

• Never approach, touch, or feed 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.

SMCHD investigates reports of animal bites and, based on the outcome of the investigation, refers the affected person(s) to the hospital’s emergency department or to their primary health care provider for treatment and vaccination.

For more information about rabies and the rabies vaccination clinics, visit the SMCHD website at smchd.org/rabies-prevention