First state case since 1976.
The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) has confirmed the death of a Maryland adult from rabies. This is the state's first case of human rabies since 1976. It is not yet known how the person was exposed to rabies virus. No additional information about the individual will be released to protect the privacy of the family.
DHMH, in conjunction with clinicians and public health partners, is assessing the risk of rabies exposure in those who had direct contact with the individual. When people are exposed to rabies, it is usually because of a bite from an infected animal, not from contact with another person.
Human rabies is prevented by administration of rabies vaccine and rabies immune globulin. Preventive treatment is only recommended for people with specific types of exposure to the saliva, tears, respiratory secretions, or to fluid from the nervous system of an infected person.
Over the past 10 years in the U.S., an average of less than five human rabies cases have been diagnosed each year. Animals found to be infected with the virus include raccoons, foxes, skunks, bats and other wild animals. Unvaccinated dogs and cats can also become infected.
Maryland law requires all dogs, cats, and ferrets to be vaccinated against rabies virus. Last year, 320 animals with rabies were detected in Maryland. Rabies can be prevented by reporting all animal bites, vaccinating your pets, and enjoying wildlife from a distance.