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September 21, 2011

For More Information Contact

  • Robert Parker, Public Information Officer, Western Region, 540-381-7100, ext. 151


(Roanoke, Va.) – TheRoanoke and Alleghany Health Districts, the Roanoke Valley Veterinary Medical Association and local veterinarians are urging people to “Protect the Ones You Love. Vaccinate Your Pets.” This important message is the focus of this year’s Rabies Awareness Week, Sept. 26 to Oct. 2.

“Vaccinating companion animals, such as dogs and cats, against rabies for their protection as well as the protection of family members is very important,” said Virginia’s State Public Health Veterinarian, Julia Murphy.

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. In most situations it is transmitted through a bite but may also be transmitted by getting saliva or brain / central nervous tissue in a wound or in the eye or mouth.

Dr. Stephanie Harper, M.D., M.P.P., Director of the Roanoke and Alleghany Health Districts said, “Unfortunately, animal bites occur often. Our health departments investigated over 750 possible human and domestic animal exposure incidents in 2010. Rabies is present in our communities, so getting pets vaccinated is essential to protecting our citizens and it’s the law.”

In the Roanoke and Alleghany Health Districts (cities of Roanoke, Salem and Covington and counties ofAlleghany, Botetourt, Craig and Roanoke),46 animals have been confirmed to be rabid in 2011 (as of September 3) and 41 animals were confirmed rabid in 2010.

“The rabies virus is shed in the saliva of animals sick with the virus, so any animal bite should be taken seriously,” said Dr. Harper. “If an animal bites you, wash the wound immediately. Call your physician, local health department or animal control agency immediately. Likewise, if your pet is bitten by a wild animal, contact your veterinarian or local health department immediately.”

The Health Department strongly advises people to take the following steps to prevent families and pets from exposure to rabies:

  • Vaccinate all cats, dogs and ferrets against rabies and keep them up to date.
  • Avoid contact with wild animals or stray cats and dogs.
  • Do not feed wild animals or stray cats and dogs.
  • Report stray or suspicious animals to your local animal control agency.
  • Eliminate outdoor food sources around the home.
  • Keep pets confined to your property or walk them on a leash.

During Rabies Awareness Week, some veterinarians may offer low-cost rabies vaccinations. Check to see if your pet’s doctor is participating. State law requires all dogs and cats over the age of four months to be vaccinated against rabies. Vaccines can be given as early as three months and one product is approved for kittens at eight weeks. Dog licenses are required throughout the state and some communities require licenses for cats.

Community rabies clinics are generally held in the spring or the fall. Here are details of planned clinics.

September 24, 2011 from 9 to 11 a.m. (Cost $10)

Bonsack Veterinary Hospital at 1620 Blue Ridge Blvd. in Troutville, 24175 VA. 540-977-5520.

Pet Health Clinic at 840 Roanoke Rd. in Daleville, VA 24083. 540-992-4550.

September 24, 2011 from 1 to 3 p.m. (Cost $10)

Old Dominion Veterinary Clinic at 47 Boone Dr. in Troutville, VA 24175. 540-992-4877

Botetourt Veterinary Hospital at 5598 Roanoke Rd. in Troutville, VA 24175. 540-992-2711.

September 29, 2011 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Cost $10)

Pet Vet at 2133 Electric Rd. in Roanoke, VA 24018. 540-904-2229.

October 22, 2011 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. (Cost $10)

Craig County Community Rabies Clinic at the Fairgrounds in New Castle. For more information, contact Craig County Animal Control at 540-864-5127.

For more information on rabies, log onto the Virginia Department of Health’s Web site at or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web site at

Last Updated: 10-20-2011

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