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Rabid skunk reported

A skunk that later tested positive for rabies tangled with a dog in Chuckatuck on Thursday, causing Virginia Department of Health officials to issue a notice warning about the dangerous disease.

The incident took place on Birch Lane, and officials on Friday were asking that anyone who might have been involved in a similar incident with a wild animal in that area contact the Suffolk Health Department or Suffolk Animal Control.

Since the affected dog was current on its rabies vaccination, it will receive a booster and a 45-day evaluation instead of having to be euthanized, according to a VDH press release.

Rabies is fatal in unvaccinated dogs and cats, and it is nearly always fatal in humans who fail to receive a vaccine in time.

“An animal exposure can be a serious medical event for which prompt evaluation and complete treatment is critical,” the press release stated. “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.”

Dr. Christopher Wilson, health director for the Western Tidewater Health District, offered the following suggestions to help residents protect themselves from rabies:

  • Contact Suffolk Animal Control or the Suffolk Health Department if your pet has been in contact with an animal that might be rabid.
  • Seek immediate medical treatment for all animal bites, and take especially seriously any from unknown animals.
  • 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. Virginia law requires all dogs and cats older than four months to be vaccinated against rabies.
  • Confine your pets to your property.
  • Securely seal garbage containers with lids.