Lord Fairfax Health District Warns Strasburg Residents of Rabies Risk

December 2, 2020

Media Contact: VDH Risk Communications Manager Lorrie Andrew-Spear – Lorrie.andrew-spear@VDH.Virginia.gov

Lord Fairfax Health District Warns Strasburg Residents of Rabies Risk

Health Department Offers Tips to Stay Safe

(Winchester, Va.) — On November 28, 2020, small black cat, possibly feral, attacked several people in the area of the 500 block of West King Street in Strasburg. The cat was captured, died two days later, and tested positive for rabies, according to the Lord Fairfax Health District.

“This cat no longer poses a threat,” said Lord Fairfax Health District Director Dr. Colin Greene, “however, anyone who may have had contact with this cat since November 20,, especially if the cat bit, scratched, or licked them, should seek medical care immediately for potential rabies exposure.  A person whose pet may have come in contact with this cat during the same time period should consult a veterinarian.”

The health department further advises:

  • Do not feed or keep feral cats, and avoid stray cats and dogs. Feral or unknown cats and dogs may also carry rabies. Report any bites or scratches from these animals to your physician or the health department.
  • Vaccinate all cats, dogs and ferrets against rabies (even if they do not go outdoors) and keep their shots up to date. Vaccinate working barn cats as well, for their protection and yours.
  • Do not feed wild animals or stray cats and dogs. Eliminate outdoor food sources around the home.
  • Keep pets confined to your property or walk them on a leash.
  • Never approach or touch wild animals, especially any raccoon, fox, skunk or bat, especially if it is behaving oddly or if it is seen in the daylight. These animals, along with feral cats, are the main carriers of rabies in the eastern United States.
  • If a wild animal bites or otherwise interacts with one of your domestic animals, notify the local health department and animal control officer at once, and have the animal seen by a veterinarian.

If you are bitten, scratched or licked by any of these animals, seek medical attention immediately. Rabies is fatal to both animals and humans once symptoms begin, but it can be prevented in humans if they receive vaccine and medication soon after exposure.

Finally, if in doubt, or if you have a question, call the Shenandoah County Health Department at 540-459-3733.

Additional information on rabies is available from the Virginia Department of Health at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-epidemiology/rabies-control/.

The Lord Fairfax Health District serves residents in the city of Winchester and Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren counties. For more information, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/lord-fairfax/

# # #