Rabies is a preventable viral disease of all mammals that is transmitted by the bite of a rabid animal. Rabies is nearly always fatal once symptoms appear. The virus attacks the nervous system and affects the brain and spinal cord. In Maryland, rabies is most frequently found in wildlife, most commonly raccoons, foxes, skunks, and bats. Domestic animals, including livestock, are also at risk, and cats are the most frequently identified rabid domestic animal. In 2013, DHMH reported a transplant-associated human rabies case, the first case of human rabies in the state since 1976.
The Center for Zoonotic and Vectorborne Diseases (CZVBD) is responsible for the Rabies Prevention and Control Program in Maryland, as mandated by law. In partnership with Maryland's 24 local health departments, CZVBD counts cases of rabies in animals; consults with health care providers on the need for treatment to prevent rabies if a person is exposed to a rabid animal; and provides education to the public about this deadly disease.