Skunk tests positive for rabies

Published 9:50 pm Friday, October 11, 2013

The Suffolk Health Department received confirmation this week a skunk found in a pen with two dogs in the Bridgepoint Farms area tested positive for rabies.

The dogs had been vaccinated, so there will be a 45-day observation period for them to ensure they do not show signs of rabies.

Rabies is transmitted when the saliva of an infected animal enters the body through an open wound or mucous membrane, such as with an animal bite.

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“An animal exposure is a serious medical event, for which prompt evaluation and complete treatment is critical,” Nancy Welch, health director for the Western Tidewater Health District stated in a press release. “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.”

The disease also is fatal in domestic dogs and cats that have not been vaccinated.

So far this year, there have been no confirmed cases of rabies in the city.

Area residents should take the following precautions to minimize risks to themselves, their animals and their communities:

  • Call Suffolk Animal Control at 514-7855 or Suffolk Health Department at 514-4751 if your pet has been in contact with an animal that might be rabid.
  • Seek medical treatment promptly for any animal bite.
  • 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. Dogs and cats more than 4 months old are required by state law to have current rabies vaccinations.
  • Confine your pets to your property.
  • Seal garbage containers with lids.