BANGOR –With some recent scares in southern Maine, officials are taking this opportunity to remind the public about the dangers surrounding rabies.
A fox attack in Brunswick last week had southern Maine residents on edge. According to our media partners at WGME, there have been 17 confirmed cases between Brunswick and Bath this year.
So how likely is an outbreak to happen here in Penobscot County?
“We definitely don’t see as many cases happening here in the Bangor area and definitely as you get into Aroostook County you have a lot fewer cases,” said Shevenell Webb, a wildlife biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
That’s partly due to the tree falling in the forest theory…
Central and northern Maine have smaller populations, meaning fewer chances to engage a rabid animal.
Webb said of the more than 500 animals tested every year, only 70 or 80 test positive, and this year Maine has had about the same amount of confirmed cases as last year.
“There’s a lot of fear with rabies … it’s a pretty rare thing,” said Webb.
Rabies is a fatal disease, meaning the hot spots flare up periodically and then die out.
If not treated, it’s also fatal for humans.
“You might not have any symptoms for quite some time, and then you can develop symptoms months later, so that’s why it’s a little sneaky and that’s why we want to make sure that if you think you’ve been bit then you need to follow up right away,” said Patty Hamilton, the public health director for Bangor.
Data from the Maine CDC shows a few cases in Penobscot County this year.
Webb said to look for an animal that is acting aggressively toward pets or humans or is acting slow and dazed.
“We get a call every year that someone sees a fox in their yard during the day, that’s no need for alarm…take that opportunity to watch the animal’s behavior,” said Webb.
Call a doctor or the vet if you suspect you or your pet has come in contact with a rabid animal.
If you think you’ve seen one, call a game warden or local animal control, and make sure your outdoor and indoor pets are vaccinated.