CHESAPEAKE, Va. – The Chesapeake Health Department has confirmed that a raccoon found in the 100 block of Waterfront Drive has tested positive for rabies.
Health officials say the animal was found in the backyard of a home in the area on August 1.
Humans become exposed to rabies 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. Rabies is highly preventable if 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% of cases,” said Dr. Nancy Welch, MD, health director for the Chesapeake Health Department.
The disease is also fatal in infected domestic dogs and cats that have not been vaccinated.
The health director strongly suggests Chesapeake residents take the following precautions to protect themselves, their families and their pets from rabies:
- If your pet has been in contact with an animal that might be rabid, check for injuries and contact the Chesapeake Animal Control at 757-382-8080 or the Chesapeake Health Department at 757-382-8672.
- 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 or the Chesapeake 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 over the age of four months to be vaccinated against rabies.
For more information on rabies, contact the Chesapeake Health Department at (757) 382-8672 or Animal Control at (757) 382-8080 or visit the Virginia Department of Health’s website here or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website here.