CHESAPEAKE, Va. - A raccoon found in the Jolliff Woods neighborhood of Chesapeake has tested positive for rabies.
The Chesapeake Health Department says the raccoon was found in the backyard of a home in the area on September 27.
Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. It kills almost any mammal or human that gets sick from it.
The rabies virus is mainly in the saliva and brain of rabid animals. It can be transmitted through a bite or getting saliva or brain tissue in a wound, eye, nose or mouth. Rabies is rare in currently vaccinated animals and is highly preventable in people.
“An animal exposure is a serious medical event, for which prompt evaluation is critical. A prompt assessment will lead to timely response which may include observation or testing of an animal, and when necessary, rabies vaccinations. Rabies is highly preventable if vaccine is given early and as recommended. Unfortunately, without preventive treatment, by the time someone develops symptoms of rabies, there is no cure and the disease is fatal in almost 100% of cases," said Dr. Nancy Welch, MD, health director for the Chesapeake Health Department.
To prevent rabies in dogs and cats, keep them up to date on their rabies vaccinations.
Dr. Welch strongly suggests Chesapeake residents take the following precautions to protecting their families and their pets from rabies:
- If your pet and/or livestock has been in contact with an animal that might be rabid, check for injuries and contact the Chesapeake Animal Control at (757) 382-8080.
- Seek medical treatment promptly for any animal bite to ensure appropriate and timely evaluation and treatment. All animal exposures must be taken seriously.
- Do not approach wild animals, especially raccoons, bats, foxes, or skunks. If you think a wild animal needs help, call the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries or a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for guidance (www.dgif.virginia.gov).
- Bring stray domestic animals, especially if they appear ill or injured, to the attention of local animal control authorities. If you think a stray animal needs help, contact your local animal control office for guidance.
- Have your veterinarian vaccinate your dogs, cats, ferrets, and selected livestock. Keep the vaccinations up-to-date. Consult your veterinarian of the Chesapeake Health Department if you have any questions about pet vaccinations.
- Confine your pets and livestock to your property.
- Securely seal garbage containers with lids.
State law requires all dogs and cats over the age of four months to be vaccinated against rabies.
For more information on rabies, contact the Chesapeake Health Department at (757) 382-8672 or Animal Control at (757) 382-8080 or log onto the Virginia Department of Health’s website or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.