Southampton Health Department issues rabies warning

Published 9:16 am Monday, February 27, 2017

The Southampton Health Department received information on Friday that a skunk tested positive for rabies. In this case, a dog fought with a skunk. The incident occurred in the Courtland area of Southampton County. Fortunately, the dog was vaccinated, and will be under a 45-day observation period.     

Exposure of humans to rabies occurs when the saliva of an infected animal enters the body through an open wound or mucous membrane, such as with an animal bite.

“An animal exposure is a serious medical event, for which prompt evaluation and complete treatment is critical. 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 percent of cases,” said Dr. Christopher Wilson, MD, Health Director for the Western Tidewater Health District. The disease is also fatal in infected domestic dogs and cats that have not been vaccinated.

The health director strongly emphasizes the following recommendations for Southampton residents to take in protecting their families and their pets from rabies:

• If your pet has been in contact with an animal that might be rabid contact the Southampton Animal Control at 653-2100 or the Southampton Health Department at 653-3036.

• 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 or stray animals, especially raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, cats and dogs.

• Ensure all pet dogs, cats and ferrets have current rabies vaccinations. Please consult your veterinarian or the Southampton Health Department if you have any questions about pet vaccinations.

• Confine your pets 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 Southampton Health Department at 653-3036 or Animal Control at 653-2100 or log onto Virginia Department of Health’s website at or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at