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DHSS Press Release



Molly Magarik, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498
Email: Jill.Fredel@delaware.gov

DPH Media Contact:
Mary Fenimore
Email: DPHMedia@Delaware.gov

Date: October 15, 2021
DHSS-10-2021





DPH REMINDS DELAWAREANS TO USE CAUTION WITH UNFAMILIAR WILD ANIMALS:
Skunk Tests Positive for Rabies after Attacking Feral Cat


DOVER, DE (Oct. 15, 2021) - The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is strongly reminding Delawareans to use caution when around unknown wild animals, including feral cats and stray animals. The reminder comes after a skunk in Greenwood recently tested positive for rabies after attacking a stray cat. The cat escaped and was later found dead in a nearby area.

"This situation is a good reminder for everyone to not touch, feed or approach stray animals. Had that cat returned to its feral colony and been infected with rabies from the attack, it could have transmitted the infection to other cats," said DPH Medical Director Dr. Rick Hong. "For the safety of everyone, the best thing to do to avoid risk of exposure to rabies, is to stay away from unfamiliar wild or stray animals."

Rabies is a preventable disease. DPH recommends that individuals take the following steps to prevent rabies exposure:

Since Jan. 1, 2021, DPH has performed rabies tests on 171 animals, 17 of which were confirmed to be rabid, which includes one dog, two raccoons, two skunks (including this one), one fox, three cats, six bats, one cow and a deer. DPH only announces those rabies cases for which it is possible the animal had unknown contacts with additional humans or pets.

In 2020, DPH performed rabies tests on 121 animals, four of which were confirmed to be rabid, including one raccoon, one bat, and two cats. Two additional Delaware animals were tested out of state and confirmed positive, bringing the state total to six.

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. Therefore, if a human has been exposed, and the animal 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.

If You Encounter an Animal Behaving Aggressively:

If You Encounter a Sick or Injured Animal:

For more information on the DPH rabies program, visit https://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 https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/



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.





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