From the Harford County Health Department:
During the late afternoon Friday, June 19, 2015 around 4:30PM, while visiting the Deer Creek Conservation Area on Sandy Hook Road located in Street Maryland, a Harford County Resident was attacked and bitten by a beaver. The beaver quickly returned to the woods but might also have had contact around the same time of the other incident with a dog, believed to be a Husky-Chow mix, owned by another visitor to the park. The individual who was bitten has been appropriately prescribed rabies post exposure treatment.
However, the Health Department urgently is seeking to identify the owner of the dog in order to make certain that all necessary health precautions are taken. The importance of attempts to reach the dog’s owner is twofold. First and foremost is concern over the possibility of indirect exposure to the rabies virus by the dog’s owner. Since the virus remains viable in the animal’s saliva for up to two hours, it potentially could have been introduced into an open wound or a mucous membrane upon handling the dog, if it engaged the beaver. Second, it is imperative that the dog be properly managed. The Health Department needs to review its rabies vaccination history, determine the need for administration of a booster dose and follow-up regarding any appropriate quarantine or isolation arrangements.
Department officials also have concerns that other individuals and possibly their pets may have been exposed to this beaver and are reaching out to any other persons with knowledge that they, their children or their or pets might have had direct contact with this beaver. Anyone with information is requested to call the Harford County Health Department at 410-877-2300. The Health Department has contacted the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to assist in the investigation of the incident and in an effort to try to identify the owner of the dog.
Rabies is a fatal disease caused by the rabies virus that typically exists in the saliva of infected animals. These animals spread the virus to humans and other animals most commonly through bites or scratches. People can also become infected if their mouth, eyes, nose, or open cuts and wounds come into contact with animal saliva containing the rabies. Because the incubation period in humans is typically 3-8 weeks, it is very important to begin rabies post exposure prophylaxis when warranted as soon as possible after exposure. Once symptoms of rabies have begun, the vaccine is no longer effective and the disease is almost universally fatal.
The risk of rabies exposure from a beaver should not be taken lightly. In 2005, the Harford County Department identified a rabies positive beaver that had attacked and bit four individuals in Rocks State Park. All of those individuals and two individuals that had indirect exposure all began receiving rabies post exposure treatment before the beaver was eventually found, humanely euthanized and submitted for testing.
Another similar incident occurred in April 2009 when the Department sought identification of the owner of a dog attacked by a rabid fox near the boardwalk at Eden Mill Park in Pylesville in northern Harford County.
Anyone or their pets who have had confirmed or possible contact with this beaver should contact the Harford County Health Department for rabies risk assessment by calling the Environmental Health Division at 410-877-2300.