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Delaware health officials are advising Rehoboth Beach residents who live or spend time in the vicinity of Kings Creek Circle and Road 273 of a positive case of rabies in a white-tailed deer in the area. The deer was showing signs of symptoms and was removed from a residential property on September 1. It was then tested for rabies, which yielded positive results on September 8.

Fawn whitetail deer. Image/Lynn Betts, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Although rabies is very infrequently found in white-tailed deer, with Delaware’s deer hunting season having begun on September 1, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) recommends the following for anyone hunting in the area where the rabid deer was found:

  • Minimize handling and do not consume any deer that was acting abnormal or appeared to be sick when harvested.
  • Always wear latex or rubber gloves when field-dressing deer.
  • Minimize the handling of the deer’s brain and spinal cord.
  • Do not allow pets around your field dressing area to prevent contact with deer blood and other tissues.
  • Wash hands, boots and knives thoroughly after finishing field dressing a deer.
  • If you harvest a deer and have it commercially processed, request that your venison is processed individually.
  • Properly cook and prepare your venison.

World Rabies Day 2021- Livestream event

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

  • All dogs, cats and ferrets 6 months of age and older are required by Delaware law to be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian.
  • Pet owners can reduce the possibility of pets being exposed to rabies by keeping them indoors and not letting them roam free. It is especially important for pet owners who do allow their cats to roam outdoors to vaccinate their pets.
  • Do not touch or otherwise handle wild or unfamiliar animals, including cats and dogs, even if they appear friendly.
  • Do not keep your pet’s food or water outdoors; bowls can attract wild and stray animals.
  • Do not feed feral animals, including cats, as the risk of rabies in wildlife is significant.
  • Spaying or neutering your pet may reduce the tendency to roam or fight and, thus, reduce the chance they will be exposed to rabies.
  • Keep your garbage securely covered.
  • Consider vaccinating livestock and horses, as well. It is recommended to consult with your private veterinarian if you have any questions regarding whether your animal(s) should be vaccinated against rabies.

Since Jan. 1, 2021, DPH has performed rabies tests on 139 animals, 11 of which were confirmed to be rabid, which includes one dog, one raccoon, one skunk, one fox, three cats, three bats and this deer. DPH only announces those rabies cases for which it is possible the animal had unknown contacts with additional humans or pets.