July 29, 2021
Media Contact: Brookie Crawford, public information officer, Central Region, firstname.lastname@example.org
Southside Health District Issues Additional Rabies Warning
(South Boston, Va.) — In order to protect the health of residents and visitors, the Southside Health District is issuing a notice about a suspected rabid skunk around Parker Avenue in South Boston. This warning is in addition to the notice issued on July 26 for a confirmed rabid skunk on or around Oakes Avenue, also in South Boston.
On July 28, a skunk in the vicinity of Parker Avenue was acting aggressively and is suspected to have rabies. The skunk is currently being tested for rabies This encounter is the second suspected rabid skunk in the South Boston area. On July 21, a skunk was found at a residence within the vicinity of Oakes Avenue and Hamilton Boulevard in South Boston. The skunk was acting aggressively towards domestic and feral cats and tested positive for rabies.
The Southside Health District asks anyone who may have come into contact with a skunk, feral cat or other stray animal in or around the areas of Parker Avenue, Oakes Avenue, or the South Boston Collection and Recycling Center to call the health department at (434) 476-4863.
“Summer is the peak season for rabies in our area,” said Briana Bill, environment health manager at the Southside Health District. “The warm weather means that humans and their pets have a higher chance to encounter wildlife and potentially rabies. An increase of skunks and raccoons in the summer may be attributed to juveniles leaving the nest and venturing out on their own, finding a new den and a foraging in urban areas.”
Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. Rabies can be prevented in cats, dogs, ferrets and some livestock with a rabies vaccination. Rabies kills almost any mammal or human that gets sick from it. The rabies virus is mainly in the saliva and brain tissue of rabid animals. It can be transmitted through a bite or by getting saliva or brain tissue in a wound or in the eye or mouth.
“It is important for people to be aware of their surroundings, pay attention to wildlife interactions with humans and pets, and be sure that your pets are vaccinated against rabies,” Bill said.
To protect pets and their owners from rabies, Virginia law requires that all dogs and cats four months of age and older be vaccinated for rabies by a licensed veterinarian, and that vaccinations be kept current.
The Southside Health District reminds everyone to avoid contact with bats, feral cats, stray dogs and wild animals, particularly in the areas where theses skunk were found. See additional precautions below.
Additional Steps to Protect Against Rabies Exposure:
- Do not feed stray animals. Avoid wild animals, especially raccoons, bats, foxes and skunks. Feed your pets indoors and do not let them wander.
- Make sure your pets are vaccinated against rabies and their shots are up-to-date. By law, all dogs, cats and ferrets must be vaccinated against rabies.
- Teach children to avoid contact with wild animals and unfamiliar pets.
- Do not handle sick, injured or dead animals.
- Keep wild animals out of homes by capping chimneys with screens and blocking openings in attics, cellars and porches. Ensure trash cans have tight fitting lids.
- If you observe any stray animals in the area, contact the Halifax Animal Control at (434) 572-4292. Please do not try to trap or handle stray and wild animals.
- If you are bitten by a wild or stray animal, do not panic. Wash the wound(s) thoroughly with warm soapy water and contact animal control, your doctor or the Southside Health District for further recommendations.
For additional information, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-epidemiology/animal-contact-human-health/ or call the Southside Health District at (434) 476-4863.
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