Rabies is a virus that is commonly found in Virginia’s wildlife, especially in certain wild animals such as raccoons, skunks and foxes. It’s important to remember though that any mammal can get rabies and so it’s helpful to take some basic precautions to protect you and your pets from being infected. World Rabies Day is September 28, and it is a global health observance to raise awareness about rabies and bring together partners to enhance prevention and control efforts worldwide.
Remember to protect yourself and your pets from rabies exposures by following these simple steps:
- Have your veterinarian vaccinate your dogs, cats, ferrets, and selected livestock. Remember to keep their vaccinations up-to-date.
- Contact your local health department or animal control authorities if your pet is attacked or bitten by a wild animal. Depending on the situation, keep in mind that your pet may need a rabies booster vaccination and be restricted to your property for a period of time after the wildlife exposure.
- Wash animal bite wounds thoroughly and report the bite to your local health department.
- Limit the possibility of exposure to rabies by keeping your animals on your property. Don’t let pets roam free.
- Keep garbage or pet food inside. Leaving garbage or food outside may attract wild or stray animals.
- Enjoy all wild animals from a distance, even if they seem friendly, and NEVER keep wild animals as pets. A rabid animal sometimes acts tame. If you see an animal acting strangely, especially if rabies exposures may have occurred, report it to your local animal control department and do not approach it.
- Contact the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources to find a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for guidance if you think a wild animal needs help. DO NOT take matters into your own hands.
- Bring stray domestic animals, especially if they appear ill or injured, to the attention of local animal control authorities. If you think a stray animal needs help, contact your local animal control office for guidance.