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Skunk tests positive for rabies

A skunk found in the Quaker Road area tested positive for rabies this week, the Suffolk Health Department says.

A dog came into contact with the skunk before it was captured. The dog did not have a current vaccination; therefore, it must be euthanized or placed in strict isolation for four months to ensure it does not show signs of rabies.

This is the second skunk this year to test positive for rabies. The first case was discovered in March in the Longstreet Lane area.

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 can be a serious medical event for which prompt evaluation and complete treatment is critical, the news release states.

Rabies is highly preventable if the vaccine is given early and as recommended. But without preventive treatment, by the time someone develops symptoms, there is no cure and the disease is fatal in almost all cases, the news release states.

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

Dr. Nancy Welch, health director for the Western Tidewater Health District, emphasizes the following recommendations for Suffolk residents:

  • If your pet has been in contact with an animal that might be rabid, contact Suffolk Animal Control at 514-7855 or the Suffolk Health Department at 514-4751.
  • Seek medical treatment promptly for any animal bite to ensure appropriate and timely evaluation and treatment. All animal exposures must be taken seriously.
  • 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. Consult your veterinarian, Suffolk Animal Control or Suffolk Health Department if you have questions.
  • 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, the news release states. For more information, contact the Suffolk Health Department at 514-4751, Suffolk Animal Control at 514-7855, or visit the Virginia Department of Health’s website at www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/epidemiology-fact-sheets/rabies or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/rabies.