Rabid raccoon exposed dogs to rabies

Published 8:57 am Friday, August 18, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Isle of Wight Health Department received information Aug. 15 that a raccoon tested positive for rabies.

In this case, two dogs killed a raccoon and a third dog made contact with the dead raccoon in the Scotts Factory Road area of Isle of Wight. All dogs had previously been vaccinated against rabies but their vaccinations had expired. All dogs received a booster vaccination 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 can be a serious medical event, for which prompt evaluation and complete treatment is critical. Rabies is highly preventable if the 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. The disease is also fatal in infected domestic dogs and cats that have not been vaccinated.

Angela Tillery, MBA, health director for the Western Tidewater Health District, strongly emphasizes the following recommendations for Isle of Wight 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 Isle of Wight Animal Control at (757) 365-6318 or the Isle of Wight Health Department at (757) 279-3078.

• 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, Isle of Wight Animal Control, or the Isle of Wight 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 Isle of Wight Health Department at (757) 279-3078, Isle of Wight Animal Control at (757) 365-6318, or visit the Virginia Department of Health’s website at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/epidemiology-fact-sheets/rabies/ or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/