Raccoon tests positive for rabies in Chesapeake neighborhood

CHESAPEAKE, Va. – The Chesapeake Health Department confirmed that a raccoon has tested positive for rabies.

The raccoon was located in the Etheridge Woods neighborhood in Chesapeake. The raccoon confronted a dog, however, the dog is up to date on rabies vaccinations.

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. It kills almost any mammal or human that gets sick from it. The rabies virus is mainly in the saliva and brain of rabid animals. It can be transmitted through a bite or by getting saliva or brain tissue in a wound or in the eye, nose or mouth.

Rabies is rare in currently vaccinated animals and is highly preventable in people. To prevent rabies in dogs and cats, keep them up to date on their rabies vaccinations. Virginia state law requires all dogs and cats over the age of four months to be vaccinated against rabies.

“An animal exposure is a serious medical event, for which prompt evaluation is critical. Rabies is highly preventable if vaccine is given early and as recommended,” said Nancy Welch, M.D., health director for the Chesapeake Health Department. “A prompt assessment and timely response may include observation or testing of an animal and, when necessary, rabies vaccinations. 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 Health Director strongly urges Chesapeake residents to take these steps to protect themselves, their families and their pets from rabies:

  • If a pet has been in contact with an animal that might be rabid, check for injuries and contact 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 animals, especially raccoons, bats, foxes or skunks. If you think a wild animal needs help, call the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries or a licensed, wildlife rehabilitator for guidance (see http://www.dgif.virginia.gov).
  • Notify local animal control authorities of stray domestic animals, especially if they appear ill or injured. If you think a stray animal needs help, contact your local animal control office for guidance.
  • Have your veterinarian vaccinate your dogs, cats, ferrets and selected livestock. Keep vaccinations up-to-date. 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.

For more information on rabies, contact the Chesapeake Health Department at (757)-382-8672 or Animal Control at (757)-382-8080, or visit their website. 

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