Isle of Wight County raccoon tests positive for rabies

Published 8:33 pm Tuesday, May 3, 2022

A raccoon in Isle of Wight County has tested positive for rabies.

According to Western Tidewater Health District officials, the raccoon — which was reported in the vicinity of Days Point Road just north of Smithfield — may have been in contact with two dogs. Both dogs had their rabies vaccinations, and received booster rabies shots, but will be under a 45-day observation period.

Dr. Nancy Welch, acting Western Tidewater Health District director, is urging Isle of Wight residents to call Isle of Wight Animal Control at 757-365-6318 or the Isle of Wight Health Department at 757-279-3078 if their pets have come into contact with an animal that might be rabid.

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. Rabies is highly preventable if the vaccine is given early and as recommended. Unfortunately, without preventative treatment, by the time someone develops symptoms of rabies there is no cure and the disease is fatal in almost 100% of cases. The disease is also fatal in infected domestic dogs and cats that have not been vaccinated.

As such, Welch is urging Isle of Wight residents to seek medical treatment promptly for any animal bite to ensure timely evaluation and treatment. All animal exposures must be taken seriously.

Additional precautions people can take include not approaching wild or stray animals, including raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, cats and dogs, confining their pets to their properties, securely sealing garbage cans with lids and ensuring all pet dogs, cats and ferrets have current rabies vaccinations.

State law requires all dogs and cats over the age of four months to be vaccinated against rabies.

More information on rabies is available on the Virginia Department of Health’s website, http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/epidemiology-

fact-sheets/rabies/, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/.