Southside Health District Warns of Rabies Concerns

July 26, 2021

Media Contact: Brookie Crawford, public information officer, Central Region, brookie.crawford@vdh.virginia.gov

Southside Health District Warns of Rabies Concerns

(South Boston, Va.)  — In order to protect the health of residents and visitors, the Southside Health District is issuing a notice about a skunk that tested positive for rabies on or around Oakes Avenue in South Boston.

On July 21, a skunk was found at a residence within the vicinity of Oakes Avenue and Hamilton Boulevard in South Boston. The skunk tested positive for rabies and was acting aggressively towards domestic and feral cats. The Southside Health District asks anyone who may have come into contact with a skunk or feral cat in or around the area of Oakes Avenue or near the South Boston Collection and Recycling Center to call the health department at (434) 476-4863.

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.

Steps to the spread of Rabies:

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 is reminding the public to avoid contact with bats, feral cats, stray dogs and wild animals, particularly in the area where the skunk was 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 pets they are not familiar with.
  • 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 for assistance 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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