Raccoon tests positive for rabies

Published 7:06 pm Friday, October 2, 2015

The Suffolk Health Department has confirmed a raccoon tested positive for rabies this week.

The raccoon fought with a dog in the Lake Prince Meadows area of Suffolk, according to the health department. Fortunately, the dog was vaccinated, so it will receive a booster and be under a 45-day observation at the owners’ residence.

“Because the owners were responsible and vaccinated their dog, strict isolation or euthanasia was avoided,” according to the press release.

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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.