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September 26, 2011

For More Information Contact

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


(Martinsville, Va.) – The West Piedmont Health District (Henry, Patrick and Franklin counties) and local veterinarians are urging people to “Protect the Ones You Love; Vaccinate for Rabies!” This important message is the focus of this year’s Rabies Awareness Week, Sept. 26 to Oct. 2, 2011.

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

Last year in West Piedmont, 13 animals tested positive for rabies. As of September 22, 2011 there have been 10 confirmed positive rabies cases in the district, which is consistent with the numbers of rabies cases last year. “The rabies virus is shed in the saliva of animals sick with the virus, so any animal bite should be taken seriously,” said Dr. Murphy. “If an animal bites you, wash the wound and 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 right away.

The West Piedmont Health District strongly advises people take these 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 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; and
  • Call your local Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries office or a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for guidance about sick or injured wildlife

During Rabies Awareness Week, some veterinarians may offer low-cost rabies vaccinations. 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 it is possible to vaccinate kittens at eight weeks. Dog licenses are required throughout the state and some communities require licenses for cats. For more information on rabies, visit the Virginia Department of Health’s website at or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at

Last Updated: 10-20-2011

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