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Dr. Kara Odom Walker, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498
DPH Media Contact:
302-744-4907, Cell 302-612-6223
Date: July 26, 2019
DOVER (July 26, 2019) - Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) is advising Newark residents who live or spend time in the area of West Chestnut Hill Road near Rittenhouse Park of a positive case of rabies in a raccoon that came into contact with a human recently. The victim was bitten by the raccoon while getting into their vehicle.
The raccoon was captured and brought to the DPH Lab, where test results on Wednesday, July 24, 2019, confirmed it had rabies. The individual has begun treatment for rabies exposure.
Anyone in this area who thinks they might have been bitten, scratched or come in contact with a raccoon should immediately contact their health care provider or call the DPH Rabies Program at 302-744-4995. An epidemiologist is available 24/7. Anyone who thinks their pet may have been bitten by the raccoon should call their private veterinarian or the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) at 302-698-4630 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since Jan. 1, 2019, the Division of Public Health (DPH) has performed rabies tests on 70 animals, four of which were confirmed to be rabid. All four positive cases involved raccoons (including this one). DPH only announces those rabies cases for which it is possible the animal had unknown contacts with additional humans or pets.
In 2018, DPH performed rabies tests on 146 animals, 19 of which were confirmed to be rabid, including six raccoons, five cats, one dog, five foxes, one horse, and one donkey. Additionally last year, DPH announced Delaware's first positive case of rabies in a human in nearly 80 years. A Felton woman died after contracting the disease.
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. Rabies in humans and animals cannot be cured once symptoms appear, and therefore, if an animal that has exposed a human is unavailable to be quarantined or tested, DPH recommends that people receive post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment, a series of four vaccinations, as a precautionary measure.
Fortunately, rabies is also almost completely preventable. DPH recommends that members of the public take the following steps to stay clear of exposure:
If You Encounter an Animal Behaving Aggressively:
If You Encounter a Sick or Injured Wild Animal:
For more information on the DPH rabies program, visit http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/dpc/rabies.html or call 1-866-972-9705 or 302-744-4995. For more information on rabies, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/.
A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person's spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com
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, and 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.