Two Cases of Rabies Confirmed Near Tenleytown

Residents near American University were notified today that a raccoon found “stumbling around” 4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW on October 2 has been confirmed rabid. A second rabid raccoon was discovered in Chevy Chase, DC two days later. Testing for rabies in raccoons is done through an examination of brain tissue following humane euthanasia of the suspected rabid animal.

In an email, Maria Hille, Supervisory Biologist with the District Department of Health’s Animal Disease Prevention Division, reminded Ward 3 residents to use “caution on approaching any suspicious animals including loose cats and dogs,” as well as to secure garbage cans and potential access to attics and crawl spaces to avoid attracting wildlife. She also encouraged pet owners not to allow domestic animals to run free in wooded areas to prevent contact with wild animals. DC law requires that owners have cats and dogs over four months of age vaccinated for rabies.

Symptoms of rabies, as outlined in a pamphlet attached to the email, include an animal:

    • being unnaturally withdrawn;
    • being unusually friendly or calm;
    • being very docile;
    • snapping at anything in its path;
    • appearing in the daytime (if it’s nocturnal); and/or
    • searching for an isolated place to die.

If residents observe an animal that may be rabid, they should contact animal control at 202-576-6664.

In the United States instances of animal to human transmission of rabies are extremely rare. According to the Center for Disease Control, fewer than a handful of cases are diagnosed annually.