Suffolk Health Department Rabies Investigation

Published 8:34 pm Monday, October 3, 2022

The Suffolk Health Department received information Sept. 30, that a raccoon tested positive for rabies.

In this case, a health department news release stated that a dog caught a sick raccoon in the Lake Meade Park area of Suffolk.

Fortunately, the dog was vaccinated against rabies. The dog received a rabies booster and is under a 45-day confinement period as a precaution, according to health officials.

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

Rabies is highly preventable if the vaccine is given early and as recommended, according to the release. Unfortunately, without preventive treatment, by the time someone develops symptoms of rabies, there is no cure, and the disease is fatal in almost 100% of cases. The disease is also fatal in infected domestic dogs and cats that have not been vaccinated.

Dr. Nancy Welch, acting health director for the Western Tidewater Health District, strongly emphasizes the following recommendations for Suffolk residents to take in protecting their families and their pets from rabies:

  • If a pet has been in contact with an animal that might be rabid, contact Suffolk Animal Control at (757) 514-7855 or the Suffolk Health Department at (757) 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. Please consult a veterinarian, Suffolk Animal Control or the Suffolk Health Department if you have any questions about pet vaccinations.
  • Confine your pets to your property.
  • Securely seal garbage containers with lids.

State law requires all dogs and cats four months or older to be vaccinated against rabies.

For more information on rabies, contact the Suffolk Health Department at (757) 514-4751, Suffolk Animal Control at (757) 514-7855 or visit the Virginia Department of Health’s website at bit.ly/3M3kpAWor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at www.cdc.gov/rabies/