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DPH wants you to be cautious of rabid animals


The Delaware Division of Public Health is cautioning residents to be aware of rabid animals.

With people spending more time outdoors during summer, it's more possible to come in contact with a rabid animal, and rabies occurs regularly in the state according to DPH.

Since 2019, 54 animals have tested positive for rabies in Delaware. That number is likely higher since only animals that come in contact with people are tested.

Susana Baumann is an epidemiologist for DPH’s Rabies Program. She says there are several visible signs of a rabid animal.

"The animal being aggressive, appearing confused or drunk like walking in circles,” said Baumann. “Other late signs which may include seizures and hyper-salivation, but mostly keep in mind that specifically with wild animals if the animal is not in its usual environment that in itself could be an indication that it is sick because they normally avoid predators."

Rabies is usually transferred through a bite, but in rare cases can come from other exposures like scratches, abrasions or open wounds exposed to saliva from a rabid animal.

While any warm-blooded mammal is susceptible to rabies, Baumann –– says some are a bit more susceptible.

"Rabies is most commonly found in bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes, coyotes, and most reported rabies cases in the US are from wild animals rather than domestic. And with bats accounting for most of the cases. Then secondary would be raccoons, skunks, coyotes and foxes," said Baumann.

If you see a wild animal behaving aggressively or a sick or injured animal, contact DNREC’s Wildlife Section.

If you think you have a rabies exposure, wash the wound and seek medical attention immediately.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.