Leonardtown, MD –  The St. Mary’s Health Department confirms a groundhog involved in a bite to a human tested positive for rabies.  The incident occurred the evening of July 30 at Fairwood Court in Leonardtown.
The groundhog is the 11th animal from St. Mary’s County this year confirmed through laboratory testing to have rabies.  Six raccoons, three skunks and one cat have been confirmed as rabid since January 1, 2016.  Five animals from St. Mary’s County were confirmed to have rabies in 2015 including three raccoons and two cats.
Rabies is a potentially fatal virus that is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal.  Exposure may occur through a bite, scratch or contact with saliva to broken skin or mucous membranes such as the eyes or nose.  All animal bites or exposures should be reported promptly to allow for appropriate rabies prevention measures.
The St. Mary’s County Health Department urges residents to practice rabies protection this summer and throughout the year by vaccinating their pets and avoiding contact with wild animals that display unusual or aggressive behavior.
Vaccination of pets is a first line of defense against rabies. Pet owners are encouraged to review the shot records of their pets with a veterinarian.  The St. Mary’s Animal Welfare League holds monthly rabies vaccine clinics March through November for a cost of $15 per vaccine. Clinic dates for the remainder of 2016 are September 12, October 10 and November 14 from 6:00 to 8:00 P.M. at the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds in Leonardtown.  

To report a bite by any animal, contact the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office at 301-475-8008. For more information about rabies and the rabies vaccination clinics, visit the health department’s website at www.smchd.org.