Raccoon tests positive for rabies

Published 7:55 pm Monday, March 23, 2015

The Suffolk Health Department received confirmation March 20 that a dead raccoon found in Suffolk tested positive for rabies.

The animal was retrieved from a marsh by a dog in the Knotts Neck Road area, according to the health department. The dog was not vaccinated, so it will be euthanized or placed in a strict, 180-day isolation in a specially designed pen.

Rabies is fatal in 100 percent of un-vaccinated domestic animals that get the disease and in nearly all of the human exposures that go undiagnosed prior to the appearance of symptoms.

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“An animal exposure is a serious medical event, for which prompt evaluation and complete treatment is critical,” said Dr. Nancy Welch, health director for the Western Tidewater Health District. “Rabies is highly preventable if vaccine is given early and as recommended.”

If your pet has come into contact with an animal that might be rabid, contact Suffolk Animal Control at 514-7855 or the Suffolk Health Department at 514-4751, she stated in the release. Welch also advised people to seek medical treatment promptly for any animal bite and to take animal exposures seriously.

Among her other recommendations:

  • 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.
  • 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.