a deer eating grass on a sunny day

Rabid deer found on residential property near Rehoboth Bayside outlets

Charles MegginsonHeadlines, Health

a deer eating grass on a sunny day

The state is warning anyone who may have had contact with a deer now diagnosed as rabid to contact their doctors and the state.


A white-tailed deer in the Rehoboth Beach-area has tested positive for rabies after exhibiting symptoms and being removed from a residential property by the Division of Public Health.

The deer is the second animal in Delaware to have been diagnosed with rabies by DPH in the last week. A fox in Greenwood tested positive for rabies after biting a human last Friday. 

The deer was located in the vicinity of Kings Creek Circle and Road 273 in Rehoboth Beach near Tanger Outlets Bayside. 

DPH is now asking anyone in the area who thinks he or she may have been bitten, scratched or come in contact with a white-tailed deer to contact their health care provider and call the DPH Rabies Program at (302) 744-4995.

An epidemiologist is available 24/7 to handle rabies-related cases, according to the press release. 

Although rabies is very infrequently found in white-tailed deer, with Delaware’s deer hunting season having begun Sept. 1,  the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control recommends the following for anyone hunting in the area where the rabid deer was found:

  • Minimize handling and do not consume any deer that was acting abnormal or appeared to be sick when harvested.
  • Always wear latex or rubber gloves when field dressing deer.
  • Minimize the handling of the deer’s brain and spinal cord.
  • Do not allow pets around your field dressing area to prevent contact with deer blood and other tissues.
  • Wash hands, boots and knives thoroughly after finishing field dressing a deer.
  • If you harvest a deer and have it commercially processed, request that your venison is processed individually.
  • Properly cook and prepare your venison.

DPH has performed rabies tests on 139 animals since Jan. 1, 2021, with 11 confirmed to be rabid including one dog, one raccoon, one skunk, one fox, three cats, three bats and this deer.

In 2020, DPH performed rabies tests on 121 animals, four of which were confirmed to be rabid, including one raccoon, one bat and two cats.

DPH recommends individuals take the following steps to prevent rabies exposure:

  • All dogs, cats and ferrets 6 months of age and older are required by Delaware law to be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian.
  • Pet owners can reduce the possibility of pets being exposed to rabies by keeping them indoors and not letting them roam free. It is especially important for pet owners who do allow their cats to roam outdoors to vaccinate their pets.
  • Do not touch or otherwise handle wild or unfamiliar animals, including cats and dogs, even if they appear friendly.
  • Do not keep your pet’s food or water outdoors; bowls can attract wild and stray animals.
  • Do not feed feral animals, including cats, as the risk of rabies in wildlife is significant.
  • Spaying or neutering your pet may reduce the tendency to roam or fight and, thus, reduce the chance they will be exposed to rabies.
  • Keep your garbage securely covered.
  • Consider vaccinating livestock and horses, as well. It is recommended to consult with your private veterinarian if you have any questions regarding whether your animal(s) should be vaccinated against rabies.


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