Raccoon positive for rabies

Published 11:03 pm Thursday, June 5, 2014

The second positive rabies test in Suffolk in a week was confirmed by the Suffolk Health Department Thursday.

According to a news release, the raccoon that tested positive fought with a pet cat in the Shellito Lane area, which is near Manning Road. The cat was euthanized because of its injuries.

Last Thursday, the health department said three people in the Harbour View area were receiving post-exposure vaccines after possibly being scratched or bitten by a rabid cat.

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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,” said Dr. Nancy Welch, director for the Western Tidewater Health District. “Rabies is highly preventable is 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 is also fatal in domestic cats and dogs that have not been vaccinated.

The health director recommends the following steps to protect your families and pets from rabies:

  • 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. State law requires all dogs and cats over the age of four months to be vaccinated against rabies.
  • Confine your pets to your property.
  • Securely seal garbage containers with lids.
  • If your pet has been in contact with a wild or stray animal, call Suffolk Animal Control at 514-7855 or the Suffolk Health Department at 514-4751.