BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Maryland Department of Health has learned that a wild groundhog found on Saturday, July 8 in the Maryland Wilderness section of The Maryland Zoo had rabies.

The groundhog, which was wild and not part of any zoo exhibit, followed a zoo visitor before being captured by zoo staff and being submitted for rabies testing.

Any person who touched, or was touched by, a groundhog at The Maryland Zoo between June 24 and July 8 should call the Maryland Department of Health at 410-767-5649 for a risk assessment.

To date in 2017, 112 animals have been diagnosed with rabies throughout Maryland, including raccoons, bats, foxes, and four other groundhogs.

Each year, approximately 900 Marylanders receive preventive treatment after exposure to a rabid or potentially rabid animal.

When a person is bitten by or exposed to the saliva of a rabid animal, rabies transmission is prevented by the administration of a vaccine series provided over a 14-day period and a dose of rabies immunoglobulin given at the beginning of the series.

To prevent exposure to rabies:

• Have your dogs, cats, ferrets, horses, sheep, and cattle vaccinated against rabies.
• Keep your pet under your control at all times, especially when traveling.
• Enjoy wildlife from a distance and do not feed or attempt to rescue wildlife.
• Avoid sick animals and any that are acting in an unusual manner.

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