Border Rabies

U.S. Department of Agriculture wildlife specialist Robert Acabbo prepares a rabies shot.

A Felton woman died after contracting rabies in the first human death from the disease in more than 75 years, according to the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services.  

The woman was admitted to a Delaware hospital in late July, after she became ill, and her condition quickly deteriorated.

She was then transferred to a Pennsylvania hospital for further treatment and testing, and died last week.

Test results confirmed rabies recently, and the source of the disease has not been identified, according to state health officials.  

The last time someone died from rabies in Delaware was in 1941, when a young boy from Newport died after he was bitten by a stray dog.

The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) and Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) have asked residents to increase efforts to prevent exposure to rabies.

DPH and DDA are working closely with Pennsylvania health officials and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on the investigation.

Residents are asked to immediately report animal bites and scratches to state health officials so preventive treatment can be started, and if the animal is unavailable to be quarantined or tested, DPH recommends people receive post-exposure prophylaxis, which is a series of four vaccinations, as a precautionary measure.

If you or a family member has been bitten, scratched by, or come in close contact with, a stray, wild or unfamiliar animal, a personal health care provider should be contacted or you can call the DPH Rabies Program at 302.744.4995(during business hours or 1.888.295.5156 outside of business hours.

Residents whose animals have been bitten or scratched by another animal, or have come into contact with their saliva or remains in the last two months, please contact the Department of Agriculture at 302.698.4630 or rabies.hotline@state.de.us.